Why You Should Try Coconut Oil for Eczema

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By Sabra Way (Bio below)

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 11.50.44 AMWhen you are choosing what moisturizer to use on your eczema you want it to work for you. Right? Even more so when the person with eczema is a child. You want every drop of moisturizer to be working towards an itch-free child. Then you may want to consider Virgin Coconut Oil for eczema. Virgin Coconut Oile (VCO) has multiple properties that make it ideal for eczema. When someone has eczema, otherwise know as atopic dermatitis, their skin looses moisture more easily than the skin of people not affected by atopic dermatitis. Even surrounding skin that is not currently afflicted with eczema is compromised in someone with atopic dermatitis. The most basic step in eczema management is to keep the skin moisturized. There is even evidence showing that routine moisturizing can prevent atopic dermatitis in some, more mild cases.

A recent study (1) compared mineral oil to VCO in a group of children who were 1-13 years old and had mild to moderate atopic dermatitis. VCO was chosen because it has several properties that are invaluable in atopic dermatitis. It is an excellent emollient for the skin not only coating the skin but penetrating it as well, unlike mineral oil that only coats the skin. VCO is also antibacterial against Staphylococcus aureus which is known to colonize eczema skin and can cause infections. Skin with eczema is more prone to infections which are painful, prolong flares and may require further medications to heal. Other studies suggest VCO is also anti-inflammatory. Reducing inflammation will reduce the symptoms of eczema and lead to less itching and scratching. Stopping the itch scratch cycle is one of the keys to controlling eczema. This study showed that after 8 weeks of twice daily application 93% of the VCO group had improvement with increased skin moisture content and decreased eczema severity. The children applying mineral oil only had a 53% improvement. That’s a big difference!

Topical virgin #coconut oil improves #eczema symptoms in children @eczemacompany @galenswatch

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Take Away Points

  • Choose Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) over regular coconut oil. Regular coconut oil is refined, heated and deodorized. All processes that destroy the beneficial properties of the oil.
  • Apply VCO at least twice a day. In the study it was applied twice a day and one of those times was directly after bathing.
  • Stick with it! It can take 8 plus weeks for the anti-inflammatory effects of VCO.
  • VCO combines well with other natural topical oils that can increase the moisturizing and skin soothing effects.

Although you can use VCO on its own, it works well in formulas with other natural topicals. It is often found in combination with essential oils, infused oils, beeswax, shea butter and other healing emollients.

 

1. Int J Dermatol. 2014 Jan;53(1):100-8.
The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial.

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Bio: Sabra Way is a Medical Herbalist and member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. She writes about herbal and complementary medicine and how it can heal the body when used effectively. An avid reader, she scans medical journals looking for studies that have an impact on complementary medicine. She is the editor of Galen’s Watch, a journal watch focused on complementary and alternative medicine for complementary health practitioners to stay up-to-date with the latest studies. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and her website

13 Comments

  1. Jenny on August 7, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    I bought so many different creams and lotions when I first found out my 1 month old daughter had severe eczema. However, virgin coconut oil ended up working better than anything else and so easy to use and perfect for babies. My daughter is now about to turn 2 yrs old and hasn’t had any eczema flareups since using VCO on a regular preventative basis and avoiding the foods she is allergic to.

    • Jennifer on August 9, 2014 at 8:03 am

      That’s ecxellent. I’m so happy to hear that VCO worked so well for your daughter! Jennifer

  2. Jennifer on August 9, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. My so used to react to coconut the same, but now he can tolerate it topically and orally, just not daily. Curious, does your child react to palm oil too? Very good point about patch testing – which is extremely important. Jennifer

    • Jennifer on August 22, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Interesting that he doesn’t react to palm. That’s good. Fingers crossed for you that your kids grow out of their allergies completely on day! Jennifer

  3. Gen on October 21, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    My daughter’s eczema was made much worse by coconut oil. My allergist actually said that using food products on broken skin is actually implicated in the development of allergies, so I would be somewhat cautious with this.

    • Jennifer Roberge on October 22, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      Hi Gen – Thank you for your comment. I’m so sorry to hear that coconut bothered your child. We saw the same with my son and it turns out through tests that he’s intolerant, but not allergic, same as I am. However coconut oil has been proven to be very effective in studies for treating eczema. Since anyone can develop an allergy to anything, even harmful chemicals in drugstore skin care, someone could develop an allergy to coconut by applying it their skin. You are correct, but food vs chemicals, no studies currently show that one is safer in regard to developing an allergy than the other. Jennifer

    • Dina on November 6, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      We had a similar experience! Our pediatrician recommended the coconut oil back in the infant days of my son’s awful cradle cap and oozing eczema. I used it religiously, but after a while, it seemed to make things worse! Took my son to a pediatric dermatologist, removed all products with coconut or coconut derived chemicals (coconut is in almost everything! Especially everything touted as natural… it was such a challenge!) And after a month of topical steroids, his eczema was completely manageable with just a standard coconut-free moisturiser. Unfortunately he still reacts to coconut and I worry that his overexposure as an infant is what started it all.

      • Jennifer Roberge on November 7, 2014 at 1:08 pm

        Oh no Dina – I’m so sorry to hear that. I think coconut oil can be helpful in more mild cases, but when the skin continues to worsen, it’s not strong enough. And it’s best to look at what’s happening inside the body at that point. Jennifer

  4. idiotwriter on April 12, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Coconut has that caprylic acid in it which is supposed to help as an antifungal – not sure about externally – but internally it is said to kill off candida. Been scouring the web…again… for my boy. Such a journey isn’t it! Finding tea tree and salt in his bath is helping at the moment.
    Nice to stumble across your site! Thanks for all the info here. Likely pop around and look some more – but my head is spinning now… been at it ALL day.(again – again!) Getting to the bottom of it if its the last thing I do on this earth 😉

    • Jennifer Roberge on April 15, 2015 at 11:16 am

      I totally understand – I’m on a mission to get to the bottom of both my son’s and my health. It sure is hard work, but I know it will pay off one day. Tea tree is likely helping in the bath because it’s an anti-bacterial, just be sure to only use a couple of drops as it is strong stuff.

      • idiotwriter on April 15, 2015 at 2:21 pm

        I can see you do 😉 It IS rather time (and mentally ) consuming hey! Do what we can though right?
        Yeah – I only use two or three drops in the bath – and try not to do it TOO often. Is it also antifungal? (I think so but not 100%)
        Best of wishes to you and yours in the war and peace on skin. (and thanks again for the time you give to put all this together – )

        • Jennifer Roberge on April 21, 2015 at 7:51 am

          Yes, tea tree is an anti-fungal and antiseptic as well. Good luck to you on your journey and keep us updated on the progress!

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