Sunflower oil may be an effective natural treatment for eczema symptoms. However, people who are allergic to sunflower seeds should avoid sunflower oil.

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There is currently no cure for eczema. However, treatment aims to heal the affected areas and prevent flares.

Oral or topical medications can help relieve the symptoms. A person can also try home remedies that use natural products, such as oils.

This article looks at the possible benefits of sunflower oil for eczema. It also explains how to use this oil as a remedy and considers the potential side effects. Finally, it discusses alternative oils and remedies for eczema.

Sunflower oil has various beneficial properties that could help improve the symptoms of eczema. These include:

Anti-itch properties

Itching is a major symptom of eczema, and scratching can cause further:

  • discoloration
  • scaling
  • crusting
  • weeping
  • swelling
  • dry, scaly, thickened patches of skin

Some natural plant oils, including sunflower oil, contain anti-itch properties, which could help prevent the condition from progressing and further damaging the skin.

Protective barrier

Experts believe that eczema is due to a leaky skin barrier, which allows an excessive amount of water to escape, leaving the skin dry and prone to:

Sunflower oil contains linoleic acid, which helps maintain the skin’s protective barrier. This barrier helps retain moisture and prevents excessive drying of the skin.

A 2019 study found that a 20% sunflower seed oil cream effectively reduced transepidermal water loss — the water that evaporates through the skin — and improved eczema in children with mild atopic dermatitis.

In addition, 2018 research showed that sunflower oil could improve skin hydration in adults without causing irritation.

Wound healing

A 2017 review concludes that sunflower oil is also highly effective in helping wounds to heal due to its high concentration of linoleic acid.

The research on lambs found a 300% reduction in wounds after 3 days of sunflower oil treatment. Experts believe that essential fatty acids and amino acids contribute to the wound-healing abilities of sunflower oil.


Sunflower oil can help replace or supplement lipids containing fatty acids. These have anti-inflammatory properties and can help prevent the drying and irritation associated with eczema.

An older study in rats found that sunflower oil was more effective than certain anti-inflammatory drugs.

Lipid repair

Eczema can cause the skin to become dry and cracked and change the skin’s lipid profile. Lipids are important molecules that make up the structure of cells.

Changes to lipids can cause the skin to lose water and become dry, potentially leading to skin barrier defects. Exposure to allergens and irritants can then cause inflammation.

Natural antioxidant

Research suggests that oxidative stress may be a significant factor in a person developing skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema.

Antioxidants in sunflower seed oil may reduce the risk of chronic disease and help protect against cellular damage.

There are various ways to use sunflower oil as a treatment for eczema. These include:

Applying products that use sunflower oil as an ingredient

A person with eczema should opt for gentle products that are dye- and fragrance-free. Applying moisturizer within 3 minutes of bathing can help the skin “lock in” moisture.

People can purchase sunflower seed oil moisturizers online.

Using organic, cold-pressed sunflower oil

People can typically find sunflower oil in grocery stores and health and wellness stores. It should contain no unnecessary additives.

A person can use the oil as an eczema treatment by:

  • pouring a small amount of oil onto the palm
  • massaging it gently into the affected areas until the skin has absorbed it
  • avoiding the eyes, if the affected area is on the face
  • repeating as necessary

Anecdotal evidence suggests that sunflower oil is generally safe and well-tolerated in children and adults. However, a person with a sunflower seed allergy should not use the oil as a treatment.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction to sunflower products include:

A person can check whether they are allergic to sunflower seeds by undergoing an allergy patch test.

Other oils and alternative or complementary therapies that people may use to treat eczema include:

  • Coconut oil: The National Eczema Foundation states that applying coconut oil can lower the risk of infection by reducing the bacteria on the skin. A person should opt for cold-pressed or virgin varieties.
  • Tea tree oil: Although people use tea tree oil to treat eczema and other skin conditions, there is a lack of evidence to confirm its effectiveness.
  • Honey: 2017 research shows that honey has antibacterial properties and could help prevent infection while helping the skin heal.
  • Colloidal oatmeal bath: According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, soaking in an oatmeal bath can relieve itching from eczema.
  • Aloe vera: Aloe vera extracts may help soothe dry, cracked skin and heal wounds. The plant also has antibacterial properties, which can help prevent infection.
  • Apple cider vinegar: According to the National Eczema Association, apple cider vinegar may help treat some symptoms of eczema. However, a person should use apple cider vinegar on the skin cautiously, as the acid in the vinegar may cause damage to soft tissue. More research is necessary to determine its effectiveness.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the use of essential oils to treat specific skin conditions, such as eczema.

However, if a person wishes to use any of the products above, they should purchase them from reputable sites or stores and discuss their use with a dermatologist.

Sunflower oil has many potential benefits as a complementary or alternative treatment for eczema.

It contains linoleic acid and fatty acids, which help protect the skin’s barrier and prevent water from escaping to keep the skin hydrated. The antibacterial properties can also help reduce the risk of infection, which is higher in people with eczema. The oil is also an effective wound healer and anti-inflammatory.

Sunflower oil is generally safe to use topically, although people with an allergy to sunflower seeds should avoid it.

A person can use creams or lotions that contain the oil as an ingredient or apply cold-pressed, organic sunflower oil directly to affected areas. People can speak with a dermatologist or doctor for more information on the use of this oil.