Eczema is a disorder in which the skin becomes red, patchy, itchy, and inflamed. This is of different types as atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis. The severity can range from mild, moderate, to severe. Most commonly, it appears on the face and cheeks of babies and children, but it can appear anywhere on the body. The symptoms for eczema vary from one child to the other. Along with children, the adults, too, can develop eczema.
It is not contagious, but living with eczema can be challenging. The exact cause is not known but is thought to arise due to environmental or genetic factors.
Eczema cannot be cured but be treated effectively. Depending upon the severity and the patient’s age, treatments application of topical medications, immunosuppressant, and biologic therapies are suggested by the dermatologists.
Sometimes, specific natural and alternative treatments can also be helpful to those who are suffering from eczema.
Before using any kind of natural and alternative treatments, one should look out for the exact symptoms for eczema and consult a dermatologist for further application.
The symptoms of eczema are different for everyone and may appear in different areas of the body. It can be itchy, red, and patchy. The itching sensation is usually mild to moderate. The common symptoms along with itchiness include dry and sensitive skin, red and inflamed skin, dark-colored patches on the skin, crusting, and rough or scaly patches of skin.
Before trying or starting any treatment, one should consult a skin specialist for the exact diagnosis and treatment for eczema.
Let’s have a look at some herbs that can be useful to treat eczema. Many of these herbs are applied topically, while others are to be taken internally only when prescribed by a skin specialist.
Herbs for eczema
1. Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula, an anti-inflammatory herb, can treat a variety of diverse skin conditions. The petals of small calendula flowers contain potent actions to treat various health conditions. Calendula extracts primarily inhibit two enzymes, COX and 5 LOX, that are responsible for inflammation.
These enzymes and inflammation substances play an important role in the process of eczema. Calendula comes in the form of ointment and gel, and when applied onto the skin it offers immediate anti-inflammatory and nourishing effects.
When used in combination with other herbs allows the skin to heal faster and provides support for the symptoms too.
Furthermore, it is believed that by using this herb, it benefits eczema by reducing the inflammation and elimination of bacteria and helping the skin heal.
2. Burdock (Arctium lappa)
This particular herb has been used in herbal medicine to soothe the gastrointestinal tract. Burdock is used in North America, The Cherokee, and Malecite traditionally for relieving dry, scaly skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and in the treatment for acne.
It has a high percentage of mucilage and inulin which is a key reason for its use for skin conditions. It acts in such a way that when mucilage comes in contact or is mixed with water it forms a gel-like layer, which in turn soothes the skin.
Similarly, inulin is a humectant and works by drawing moisture up through the skin by hydrating the upper layer of the skin.
3. Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
As per its name, milk thistle contains a white milky sap, a demulcent that forms a gel-like layer that traps moisture and soothes the skin. This herb contains a compound called silymarin.
4. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
The root of dandelion is the most commonly used part of the plant for various therapies and treatments. Some clinical studies report that drinking dandelion juice can stimulate the liver and help clean up dyshidrotic eczema.
The sap which is also called dandelion milk when applied externally can heal eczema. The dandelion milk helps in treating skin disease caused due to microbial or fungal infections. Dandelion root contains several compounds, including inulin, which acts by drawing moisture up to the skin.
Other than the root, flowers of this herb also help in soothing the skin as it contains a compound called lecithin which is a moisturizing nutrient and also used in numerous skincare products. To date, not much research has been done on the topical benefit for dandelion to treat eczema.
5. Oats (Avena sativa)
Oats are cereals that are commonly eaten in the form of either oatmeal or rolled oats.
Research also says that it has potential health benefits. Oatmeal has been used for thousands of years to relieve itching and irritation.
It contains compounds called avenanthramides that possess potent anti-inflammatory action and also exhibit anti-oxidant activity.
Several clinical trials have been conducted to identify the effect of oats on eczema. These studies suggest that after the topical application of oats extracts, there was a significant reduction in the redness, dryness, scaliness, itching, and erythema.
6. Samambaia (Polypodium leucotomos)
This modest fern native to the amazon forest is famous for its use for skin and nervous system conditions.
This fern species is considered as the finest herbal medicine for psoriasis. It also shows promising effects on eczema.
The part of the plant having the therapeutic benefit is the rhizome. The most important property of this plant, when consumed orally is; that it has a great ability to protect and improve the skin’s resistance to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun.
This herb works by disabling the inflammatory process during such skin conditions. Along with its usefulness in treating skin conditions, this herb is also used in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
7. Chickweed (Stellaria media)
This small white flower native to Europe is used in Chinese and Herbal medicine and is also recommended by herbalists for skin diseases. The chickweed extract, when used internally, acts as a demulcent, but it’s more commonly used externally to treat rashes and sores.
Chickweed exhibits effective anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties due to various compounds that it contains, like flavonoids, polysaccharides, and cyclic peptides.
8. Neem (Azadirachta indica)
Neem oil is prepared from the seed of the tropical neem tree. Neem oil is extremely beneficial for skin problems. Even though it has a very harsh odor, it is used in a variety of beauty products like creams, body lotions, and other cosmetics.
Neem oil is high in fatty acids and other nutrients. It is used to treat eczema and other skin diseases like ringworm and scabies. Sometimes, it may cause an adverse reaction when applied to sensitive skin or a skin disorder like eczema.
If any person is using neem oil for the first time, then the person should try a small and diluted amount of the oil on a small area of the skin, avoiding face and look for redness or itching. Neem oil is not suitable for use in children and should only be used when consulted with your doctor.
9. Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Nettle is found to have anti-inflammatory, astringent, bactericidal, and healing properties. Stinging nettle has been used to treat eczema from many eras.
The herb has a characteristic property of ‘sting’ which reduces the inflammation that is responsible for the painful and itchy symptoms. Studies suggest that nettle works by reducing the levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body. It also interferes with the body pain signals.
10. Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis)
The herb is useful for the skin to treat wounds, eczema, and other skin conditions. It contains a chemical named berberine, which might act against bacteria and fungi and is under research for immune stimulation properties. This herb is beneficial to treat inflammations and irritations caused by eczema. This herb also has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent properties that help in healing all the wounds by soothing the skin.
Before experimenting with any of these above herbs one should consult with a medical herbalist. Also, perform a patch test on the skin for the first time before application on the skin. Even though the herbs are safe for use on the skin, some people can be allergic or sensitive to them and can cause allergic reactions.