The main symptoms of eczema are patches of dry, itchy, and scaly skin that may crack and bleed. A key aim of treatment is to keep the skin hydrated.
Some medications can irritate sensitive skin, prompting many people with eczema to search for effective natural treatments, such as coconut oil.
In this article, we delve into the research that explains how coconut oil can relieve eczema symptoms. We also describe how to use it and the possible risks.
How does coconut oil counter eczema?
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a healthful fatty acid that is also in breast milk.
Lauric acid is an ingredient in natural remedies for all kinds of health issues, including eczema.
While coconut oil cannot cure eczema, it can soothe the skin, reduce irritation and itching, and lower the risk of infection.
What does the research say?
Coconut oil can soothe the skin and reduce itching.
Eczema reduces the skin's ability to stay hydrated. Results of a 2014 randomized, double-blind clinical trial indicate that applying virgin coconut oil to the skin for 8 weeks may improve skin hydration in children with eczema.
According to the findings of a 2018 study, coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory properties and helps protect the skin.
Authors of a 2014 scientific review concluded that coconut oil can effectively reduce the presence of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This is significant because people with eczema can be more vulnerable to skin infections.
Eczema can cause the skin to crack and bleed. Scratching or even touching broken skin can lead to infection.
How to use coconut oil for eczema
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but exposure to heat turns it into a liquid. A person can use solid or liquid coconut oil on the skin. If it is solid, rub a small scoop between the fingertips until it softens.
To reduce symptoms of eczema, apply coconut oil to the skin twice a day, or more often if necessary. A person can use it like any other lotion or moisturizer.
A person may benefit from applying the oil more often during flare-ups of symptoms, and continuing to use the oil may prevent eczema symptoms from returning or getting worse.
If the skin feels dry in the mornings, try applying coconut oil before bed.
To treat eczema on the scalp, try using coconut oil instead of conditioner. Apply it directly and gently massage it into the scalp. Leave the oil on for a few minutes, then rinse it off with warm water.
Always talk to a doctor before using coconut oil or any other natural remedies. The doctor can advise about fitting these remedies into a treatment plan.
Anyone who is allergic to coconuts should refrain from using coconut oil. To test for an allergic reaction, try applying a tiny bit of oil to a small patch of undamaged skin.
It is important to choose a high-quality, organic, extra-virgin or cold-pressed coconut oil to ensure that it was extracted without chemicals, as certain chemicals can irritate the skin.
Is it safe for infants?
Always talk to a doctor before using coconut oil or other natural remedies on infants, toddlers, or older children.
If the child is allergic to coconuts, do not expose them to the oil. Always test for allergies first.
When using coconut oil on an infant's or toddler's skin, be sure to keep it away from their eyes.
Otherwise, a person can use coconut oil like any other moisturizer or lotion. Pay special attention to areas that are particularly prone to flare-ups, including the elbows and knees.
The best time to use coconut oil is after a bath or shower. Some people also like to add a bit of coconut oil to the bath.
Other natural remedies for eczema
Apple cider vinegar may relieve symptoms of eczema, but use it with caution.
The following natural remedies may also help to soothe and eliminate symptoms of eczema:
- Apple cider vinegar. The acidity and antimicrobial effects of apple cider vinegar may relieve symptoms of eczema. However, the high concentration of acid can irritate or burn sensitive skin, so use caution.
- Omega-3 supplements. Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements can boost the immune system and prevent flare-ups.
- Vitamin D. These supplements may help prevent eczema symptoms.
- Probiotics. Regularly taking probiotics may also help prevent eczema flare-ups.
Applying coconut oil is a natural way to keep the skin hydrated. This may be especially beneficial during flare-ups of eczema symptoms. Continuing to use the oil between flare-ups may prevent symptoms from returning or becoming worse.
A person can purchase virgin coconut oil online or find it in some supermarkets and health stores.
Using coconut oil regularly can moisturize the skin, reduce itchiness, and lower the risk of infection. However, as always, speak to a doctor before adding a natural remedy to a course of treatment.