When eczema strikes, red, scaly patches invade the skin—and they itch like crazy. This chronic inflammatory condition (also called atopic dermatitis) can’t be cured, and tends to flare periodically and then subside. But with super-simple lifestyle changes and home remedies, you can ease your symptoms during an eczema flare-up—no doctor’s visit required. Here, dermatologists share some of their go-to skin soothers.
1. Colloidal oatmeal
Colloidal oatmeal is made from finely-ground oats. It helps calm and soften inflamed skin. Colloidal oatmeal is available in cream or powder form.
Here’s how to use it:
- Add the powder to lukewarm bathwater and soak for 10 to 15 minutes to help soften rough skin and relieve itching.
- After your bath, pat your skin dry, and apply a thick layer of hypoallergenic moisturizer that has a high oil content.
2. Apply Olive Oil
Olive oil is a natural oil which contains omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Rub some warm olive oil into affected areas of the skin to soften the patches. If psoriasis is affecting your scalp, use some olive oil for your scalp while showering to remove the dried skin. Adding olive oil to your diet can also help heal your skin from the inside out.
3. Apply Aloe Vera
Pure Aloe Vera gel helps in providing a nice cooling effect to itchy skin. If you are suffering from eczema or psoriasis, consider growing your own aloe plant so that you can take the gel straight from its natural source avoiding the chemicals.
4. Sleep with a humidifier
If the air in your home is dry, that means your skin will be, too. This is especially a problem during cold-weather months when running the heat sucks moisture away from your skin. Use a cool mist humidifier to help your skin maintain moisture.
5. Try meditating
Being Zen doesn’t exactly sound like an eczema fix—especially when the itching is driving you mad—but “sometimes eczema flares up due to triggers, like stress,” says Lindsey Bordone, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center. So getting your anxiety under control is keeping for those flaky, dry, uncomfortable patches at bay. It might sound woo-woo, but try meditation—there are all sorts of ways to do it right from your phone. Try this 5-minute guided meditation to bring on calm fast.
6. Consume Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and they help block a chemical in your body called arachidonic acid responsible for inflammation. Consume a few tablespoons of flaxseed and add to smoothies, oatmeal, granola, or salads. You can also use flaxseed oil as a dressing for salads and veggies.
7. Calendula cream
Calendula cream is an herbal remedy. Calendula has been used for centuries as a folk remedy to heal skin inflammation, burns, and cuts.
It’s thought to improve blood flow to areas of injury or inflammation, help hydrate skin, and help fight infection.
Research is lacking on the effectiveness of calendula for eczema. But, people claim it helps. Calendula cream is available over the counter at many pharmacies and natural health stores.
8. Swap out alcohol
There aren’t any definitive studies to show that a specific diet will have an impact on eczema, Dr. Fenton says. But inflammation has been proven to trigger eczema, he adds, so anything that creates inflammation the body—like booze—can cause the condition to make an unwanted cameo.
9. Choose a gentle laundry detergent
Forget the flowery, fancy soaps. You need something bland and fragrance-free, Dr. Fenton says. That’s because they have fewer chemicals, which lessens the chances of agitating your skin. Fragrance-free, dye-free laundry detergents for sensitive skin often say “free and clear” on the label.
10. Add Turmeric
Many eczema treatments require topical care, but this one has more to do with what you ingest. Studies have linked this spice to reduced inflammation in a number of skin conditions, including psoriasis. Curcumin, an antioxidant found in turmeric, has been shown to protect skin by neutralizing free radicals and reducing wound-healing time. To achieve benefits, aim to take in about a teaspoon of turmeric every day. It has a subtle, citrusy flavor that works well with rice, veggies, pasta, and other cooked meals.