As you already know, there are several alternative therapies that can help relieve eczema. From healing your gut with probiotics (see our blog post: Can Probiotics Help Eczema? Studies About Probiotics and Eczema Indicate Yes!) to delving into homeopathic medicine (see our blog post: How Does Homeopathy for Eczema Work?) and so much more…
This week, we look at the top 3 natural oils for eczema as recommended by dermatologist Dr. Peter Lio (1): Sunflower Seed, Coconut and Evening Primrose and how they can be incorporated into a treatment for effective relief.
Please keep in mind that although these tips and information have worked for several eczema sufferers, I am in no way a medical professional. If you’re experiencing severe eczema or have a topical infection, it is always best to seek medical advice immediately.
Natural Oils for Eczema
Each of our bodies produce a type of fat known as ceramides that help protect the skin barrier from infection. Sunflower seed oil makes it into this list of the best oils for eczema as it can stimulate natural ceramide production.
There have been many studies done that show that sunflower seed oil has both anti-inflammatory and skin barrier restoring effects. (2) “Linoleic acid is the major lipid that converts to arachidonic acid, which leads to prostaglandin E2, an inflammatory modulator, possibly via peroxisome proliferative-activated receptor-a (PPAR-a) activation. These anti-inflammatory aspects are very compelling for our menagerie of inflammatory dermatoses,” according to Dr. Peter Lio.
How to use Sunflower Seed Oil?
The best and easiest way to introduce sunflower seed oil into your life, is by incorporating it into your skin regime. Try to find an oil that is cold pressed and organic, which will ensure the maximum nutrients are obtained and not released when processed at high temperatures. Adding a small amount of sunflower seed oil to the skin when wet will help the oil easily absorb.
Emily Skin Soothers makes some great balms featuring Chinese herbs in a sunflower seed oil and beeswax base. Try their Super Dry Skin Soother for thick, dry eczema or their Hot Skin Soother for red, weeping or angry looking eczema.
We’ve already discussed several reasons why coconut oil is one of the best oils for eczema in our post: Everything You Should Know About Using Coconut Oil for Eczema; however one standout study worth a mention showed that (3) “topically applied coconut oil decreased staphylococcal colonization [skin that is colonized by staph bacteria] by 95 percent in patients with atopic dermatitis when applied twice daily for four weeks.”
How to use Coconut Oil?
There are several ways you can use coconut oil both externally and internally to help relieve eczema.
When looking for coconut oil, you want to make sure to opt for cold pressed Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Be careful! Not all coconut oils are made equal (and neither are all natural skincare products that include coconut oil). Coconut oil can either be ingested as a supplement or easily added to your diet. Try incorporating the oil either as a cooking oil or in a smoothie for a coconut-y flavor!
Coconut oil pulling is also popular among those who suffer from eczema, psoriasis and allergies. This technique is an old detoxification method that involves swishing around a tablespoon of coconut oil in the mouth for at least 20 minutes. Ideally it should be done a few times a week, on an empty stomach.
There are many natural products that contain organic coconut oil, such as this Coconut Aloe Moisturizing Serum that can be applied topically twice daily to heal eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. This serum also contains a small amount of aloe to provide a cooling effect and additional healing properties. For other coconut oil based products, check out Vegaline that helps fight dry, sensitive or chapped skin, as well as diaper rash. Beeseline is also a great alternative to petroleum jelly.
Evening Primrose Oil
Although studies have shown mixed results, Evening Primrose Oil has been used and recommended by several eczema sufferers. This oil contains both omega-6 fatty acids and gamma linoleic acid (another fatty acid).
How to use Evening Primrose Oil?
Similar to other fatty acids, Evening Primrose Oil is best consumed orally. You can find several brands that produce capsules of this oil, such as this one. Also Evening Primrose Oil has been shown to fight against hair loss – a double win!
These oils definitely hold some promises for alternative treatments. If you’re looking to add them to your lifestyle or diet, it is good to know that they are rather inexpensive and easily accessible.
However, it’s important to note that inflammation starts from the inside. Instead of only treating your skin with these oils or taking them orally, we suggest you conduct an elimination diet to find out which foods may be causing your eczema. For more information on success with elimination diets, check out our blog post: Our Eczema Elimination Diet Success (How You Can Do It Too!)
Do you or a loved one use any of these natural oils for eczema? Let us know in the comments below!
And for more from Dr. Peter Lio, check out these posts:
Bio: Laura is a contributor and content developer for It’s An Itchy Little World. She is in no way a medical professional. Her comments, suggestions, and reflections are not intended to replace any medical advice. Always seek the help of a medical professional before undertaking any diet or lifestyle changes. Please see It’s An Itchy Little World’s disclaimer for information about affiliate links and more.
(1, 3) Peter A. Lio, MD. Alternative Therapies in Atopic Dermatitis Care: Part 2. Practical Dermatology for Pediatrics, July/August 2011.
Peter A Lio, MD. Skin Barrier Benefits of Sunflower Seed Oil. Dermatology Times, July 13, 2015.