Essential Oils for Eczema
Important Note: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis of patient treatment. Consult your doctor first about using essential oils, especially if you have known allergies to other substances or components found in them.
There is no cure for eczema or atopic dermatitis. However, there are several alternative ways that can potentially help with some of the symptoms. One of the things you should remember about using essential oils is that it is not meant for external use, or rubbing directly onto the skin.
How to use essential oils
Essential oils are diluted in a carrier oil (can be coconut, sunflower, sesame, almond, jojoba, or argan oil). After the essential oil is diluted, that’s the time it can be applied to the skin, added to a bath, or diffused into the air for aromatherapy. Essential oils can even be added to a cream and rubbed onto the skin. Before using it, apply a small amount with a cotton swab to the inner arm and look for signs of reaction such as redness, itching, burning, or discomfort.
How do I know which essential oil to use?
When picking out essential oils, always look for those that are in glass bottles and never in plastic ones. The oils can actually dissolve the plastic which will contaminate the oil and might even be harmful to your skin. You also might want to avoid buying essential oils that have additives or preservatives or have already been diluted.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is antimicrobial—meaning, it can fight infection-causing germs, anti-inflammatory—meaning it can help lessen irritation, and antifungal, meaning it can help reduce itching.
Tea tree oil comes from leaves of the tea tree plant. It’s often used for a variety of skin conditions, such as athlete’s foot, head lice, nail fungus, and insect bites.
One study found that tea tree oil is most effective for treating contact dermatitis. However, there’s limited research that says tea tree oil is helpful when applied topically to treat eczema.
Peppermint oil may help alleviate itching. However, since peppermint has such a strong smell, doctors do not recommend it to be used on the face, or on the chest of infants and young kids.
There’s very limited research on peppermint oil and its effects on eczema, so be cautious about using it. Talk with your doctor before trying it.
Calendula oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce swelling and pain. It can also help to hydrate, calm, and soothe the skin. Calendula is made from marigold flowers. If you have known allergies to this kind of flower, you might want to skip using Calendula oil.
Eucalyptus has both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.
Just like eucalyptus, it has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects, good for patients with sensitive skin.
Chamomile hydrates, calms, and soothes the skin and it is also anti-inflammatory.
Some of these oils are linked to reducing inflammation and boosting moisture, making them potentially helpful for eczema-prone skin. But there isn’t enough research yet to support this. Use essential oils with caution, as they can sometimes lead to irritation or an allergic reaction. Always talk to your doctor before applying anything new to your skin that they haven’t prescribed, especially if you have eczema or sensitive skin.