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About 31.6 million people in the United States — more than 10% of the population — have a form of eczema. People often use the term eczema interchangeably with atopic dermatitis, the most common type of the condition.

Eczema can affect people of all races and ethnicities. Currently, 10% of African American people, 11% of white people, 13% of Asian American and Pacific Islander people, and 13% of Native American people have the condition.

Eczema can cause the skin to appear chapped, red, and on darker skin tones it may look brown, purple, or gray.

Home remedies and natural treatments can soothe the dry, itching skin that accompanies eczema.

People can use creams, natural products, and dietary and lifestyle changes to manage or prevent eczema flares, especially in the winter, when symptoms tend to be at their worst.

Natural substances, such as aloe vera gel and coconut oil, can moisturize dry, broken skin. They can also combat inflammation and harmful bacteria to reduce swelling and prevent infection.

Natural remedies cannot cure eczema, but they can help manage the symptoms and prevent flares. This article explores the best natural remedies for eczema.

Aloe vera gel comes from the leaves of the aloe plant. People have used aloe vera gel for centuries to treat a wide range of ailments. One common use includes soothing eczema.

A 2017 systematic review looked at the effects of aloe vera on human health. The researchers reported that the gel has the following properties:

  • antibacterial
  • antimicrobial
  • boosts the immune system
  • helps heal wounds

The antibacterial and antimicrobial effects can prevent skin infections, which are more likely to occur when a person has dry, cracked skin. Aloe’s wound-healing properties may soothe broken skin and promote healing.

How to use it

People can buy aloe vera gel in health stores or online, or they can purchase an aloe vera plant and use the gel directly from its leaves.

Individuals should aim to use aloe gel products with few ingredients — others can contain preservatives, alcohol, fragrances, and colors, which can irritate sensitive skin. Additionally, alcohol and other drying ingredients could make eczema worse.

However, start with a small amount of gel to check for skin sensitivity, as sometimes, aloe vera can cause burning or stinging. However, it is generally safe and effective for adults and children.

Learn more about using aloe vera gel to treat eczema.

Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for many conditions, including skin disorders.

The National Eczema Association (NEA) reports that apple cider vinegar could help with the condition. However, it recommends exercising caution, as the vinegar’s acids can damage soft tissue.

No research has confirmed that apple cider vinegar reduces eczema symptoms, but below are two reasons why it could help.

Balancing the skin’s acidity levels

Vinegar is highly acidic. The skin is naturally acidic, but people with eczema may have less acidic skin than others, which can weaken the skin’s defenses.

Applying diluted apple cider vinegar could help balance the skin’s acidity levels, but vinegar can cause burns if it is not diluted.

In contrast, many soaps, detergents, and cleansers are alkaline. They can disrupt the acidity of the skin, which can leave the skin vulnerable to damage. This may explain why washing with certain soaps can cause eczema flares.

Fighting bacteria

Studies have found that apple cider vinegar may fight bacteria, including Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). Using apple cider vinegar on the skin could help protect broken skin from contracting an infection.

How to use it

Always dilute apple cider vinegar before applying it to the skin — undiluted vinegar can cause chemical burns or other injuries.

People can use the vinegar in wet wraps or baths, and it is available in most supermarkets and health stores.

To use apple cider vinegar in a wet wrap:

  • Mix 1 cup of warm water and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
  • Apply the solution to cotton or gauze.
  • Cover the dressing in clean cotton fabric.
  • Leave it on the area for 3 hours.

To try an apple cider vinegar bath soak:

  • Add 2 cups of apple cider vinegar to a warm bath.
  • Soak for 15–20 minutes.
  • Rinse the body thoroughly.
  • Moisturize within several minutes of leaving the bath.

Learn more about using apple cider vinegar for eczema.

Although it may sound dangerous, research indicates that a mild bleach bath can improve eczema symptoms due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.

Bleach can kill the bacteria on the surface of the skin, including S. aureus, which causes staph infections. This may restore the microbiome of the skin’s surface.

A 2018 review concludes that bleach baths could reduce the need for topical corticosteroid or antibiotic treatments. However, other research found no benefits of bleach baths compared to regular baths.

How to use it

To make a bleach bath for eczema, use regular-strength (6%) plain bleach and try the following:

  • Add half a cup of bleach to a full bathtub of water or 1 teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water.
  • Pour in the bleach while the bath is filling.
  • Soak for 5–10 minutes.
  • Rinse the body thoroughly with warm water.
  • Gently pat the skin dry.

Use lukewarm water to prevent the skin from drying out and moisturize immediately after drying.

If a person experiences any discomfort, irritation, or redness, they should stop using bleach baths. People with asthma or breathing issues should also refrain from taking bleach baths due to the strong fumes.

Colloidal oatmeal, also known as Avena sativa, comes from oats that have been ground and boiled to extract their skin-healing properties.

A 2015 study reports that colloidal oatmeal lotion had antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, resulting in improved:

  • skin dryness
  • scaling
  • roughness
  • itch intensity

According to the results of an older study, a colloidal oatmeal moisturizer offered significant benefits for skin healing.

How to use it

Add powdered colloidal oatmeal to a warm bath and soak.

Choose a colloidal oatmeal product that features oats as the only ingredient and avoid those with fragrances or additives. People can buy pure colloidal oatmeal from health stores or online.

Lotions and creams that contain colloidal oatmeal are also available for purchase online.

Colloidal oatmeal is generally safe for all ages, but people who are allergic to oats should avoid it. Individuals who are allergic to gluten should also exercise caution, as manufacturers often process oats with wheat.

Bathing provides the skin with essential moisture and is an important part of eczema treatment. When a person has a skin condition, such as eczema, their skin needs extra moisture because the outer layer does not function as it should.

For some, washing often can dry out the skin and make eczema worse. This can occur when:

  • using water that is too hot or cold
  • using the wrong soap
  • not moisturizing afterward

However, avoid bathing too frequently — most babies and children need bathing once or twice a week.

The NEA recommends that adults:

  • bathe or shower at least once a day
  • use lukewarm water
  • limit bathing to 10–15 minutes
  • avoid scrubbing the skin
  • use gentle cleansers instead of soaps
  • try different types of medicinal baths, such as those with baking soda, vinegar, or oatmeal

A long, hot shower can remove natural oils and moisture from the skin. Therefore, take shorter showers and keep the water at a warm, but not hot, temperature.

After bathing, moisturize within 3 minutes. Gently pat the skin dry with a towel and apply an oil-based moisturizer before the skin has fully dried. This can help seal in water from the shower or bath before it evaporates.

After washing and drying the hands, apply moisturizer to help prevent eczema flares.

Coconut oil contains beneficial fatty acids that can add moisture to the skin, which can help people with dry skin and eczema.

Additionally, virgin coconut oil may protect the skin by helping combat inflammation and improving the health of the skin barrier.

An older study looked at the effects of applying virgin coconut oil to the skin in children. It found that using the oil for 8 weeks improved the symptoms of eczema.

How to use it

Apply cold-pressed virgin coconut oil directly to the skin after bathing and up to several times a day. Use it before bed to keep the skin moisturized overnight.

Extra-virgin coconut oil is generally solid at room temperature, but the warmth of a person’s body turns it into liquid. The oil is available in health stores and online.

However, people who are allergic to coconuts should not use coconut oil.

Learn more about using coconut oil for eczema.

Honey is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent, and people have used it to heal wounds for centuries.

A review confirms honey can help heal wounds and boost immune system function, meaning it can help the body fight off infections.

Another review states that honey is useful for treating a variety of skin ailments, including burns and wounds, and that it has antibacterial properties.

With direct application on eczema-affected skin, honey could help prevent infections while moisturizing the skin and speeding healing.

How to use it

Try dabbing a little honey onto the area. Manuka honey products that are suitable for wound care and skin application are also available in many drug stores and online.

Manufacturers derive tea tree oil from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree. People often use this oil to help with skin problems, including eczema.

An older review identifies anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and wound-healing properties in the oil. It may help relieve skin dryness and itching and help prevent infections.

How to use it

Always dilute essential oils before using them on skin. Try mixing tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as almond or olive oil, before applying the solution. Some products include tea tree oil in a diluted form.

People can find the oil in health stores or online.

Learn more about using tea tree oil for eczema.

Eczema is an inflammatory condition, meaning it causes inflamed, red, sore skin.

Certain foods can cause or reduce inflammation in the body, so making a few key dietary changes could help reduce eczema flares.

Examples of anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • fish
  • leafy greens
  • beans and lentils
  • colorful fruits
  • vegetables
  • turmeric and cinnamon

Common inflammatory foods include dairy, eggs, soy, and wheat. Try eliminating some of these from the diet and keep a food diary to help identify which foods may be problematic.

Learn more about diet tips for eczema.

Laundry detergent can contain harsh chemicals that aggravate eczema.

Many body washes and cleansers contain detergents, which help provide a soapy lather. Detergents and other lathering agents can dry out the skin, especially in people with eczema.

Bar soaps can also be harsh on the skin because of their alkalinity.

Try using a gentle, no-lather, fragrance-free cleanser. Avoid products with rough particles for scrubbing or exfoliating, as these can further irritate the skin.

Many people with eczema also find that switching to a more gentle, fragrance- or color-free laundry detergent can help improve symptoms.

Additionally, try skipping fabric softener, which lingers on clothes and often contains fragrances and chemicals that can irritate the skin.

Sitting next to a fireplace or near a furnace may feel good, but it can worsen eczema symptoms. The hot, dry air can dehydrate the skin and aggravate the itchiness of eczema.

Use a humidifier during the dry winter months and avoid getting too close to heaters and fireplaces.

Cold, harsh winter winds can dry out the skin and cause eczema flares.

Keep the skin covered when temperatures are low. Also, consider covering the face with a scarf if eczema occurs in this body region.

While many home remedies are suitable for babies and children, always speak with a doctor before using them.

The following home remedies and tips may help:

  • Avoid dressing a baby or child too warmly. Sweating can aggravate eczema or cause heat rash, making itching worse.
  • Use mittens to prevent infants from scratching their skin.
  • Apply a gentle moisturizer frequently to the affected areas, taking care not to get it in the eyes or nose.
  • Do not cover a baby’s face with a scarf — infant car seat covers can help shield a baby from cold outside air. Check often to ensure that the baby is getting enough airflow.
  • Ask a doctor before using apple cider vinegar or bleach when bathing a baby or child.
  • Colloidal oatmeal baths are generally safe for children, but keep the bath water out of their eyes.
  • Avoid bathing infants too frequently. Most babies and children only need bathing once or twice a week unless they are visibly soiled. Bathing less frequently may help prevent dry skin.
  • Use fragrance- and alcohol-free baby wipes, which may contain irritating ingredients. Look for those without fragrance or alcohol and those that contain soothing ingredients, such as aloe vera. Sensitive skin wipes may be useful.
  • Use baby shampoos suitable for children with eczema. Many eczema washes can sting the eyes, so look for eczema washes that are “tear-free” and carefully avoid the child’s eyes.

There is no cure for eczema, but people can often manage their symptoms with home remedies, including natural gels and oils, medicated baths, and dietary changes.

If eczema is severe or does not respond to home treatments, it may be a good idea to consult a doctor. Seek prompt medical attention if a child or baby develops a new rash.

A doctor may prescribe steroid creams or other prescription medicines to treat the inflammation.

Read the article in Spanish.