Eczema prevalence statistics are relatively high – it is estimated that around 35 million Americans are affected by eczema. A closer look at the break up of data reveals that around 70% of individuals who are affected by eczema have the condition from a very young age. This condition continues into adulthood in a significant percentage of those affected, with many experiencing one or more symptoms. Eczema, the itchy inflammation on the skin has a very high rate of prevalence through inheritance. Eczema like many skin related conditions does not presently have a cure, it can only be managed through treatments. Treatment options include medication available over the counter, topical applications, phototherapy and changes in lifestyle. We take a close look at the top essential oils for eczema to understand the efficacy of using the oils as a treatment option. We study the background and evidence based effects to separate fact from fiction.
What is eczema and will essential oils for eczema work?
Atopic eczema, commonly known as eczema is a form of atopic dermatitis which is characterized by the presence of inflammation of the skin, accompanied by itchy sensations. These rashes typically appear in the arms or at the back of knees, though it can also be present elsewhere in the body. In addition to the most common condition of itching, other symptoms include dryness of the inflamed area, bumps, reddish appearance and peeling. While the actual reason for the prevalence of eczema is still not proven, it has been linked to the body’s overactive immune response system to irritants. As a result of this response, inflammation and the associated symptoms are triggered. This condition is passed down from generation to generation. Before we look at the effectiveness of essential oils for eczema it is important to understand the associated conditions.
The term atopic is linked to conditions that are often inherited and typically allergic in nature. For instance, atopic dermatitis, asthma and hay fever all belong to the same category of diseases. Eczema can be managed and controlled to a certain extent, and individuals can ensure that it does not impact life. A large number of individuals who suffer from the condition are known to experience the symptoms intermittently throughout life. Certain symptoms are triggered due to allergies, and this is the reason why individuals witness symptoms periodically. This flaring up of the conditions is often associated with exposure to substances or events that trigger the allergies. For instance, this could be exposure to harsh chemicals, this could be climatic in nature, or this could be due to certain materials coming in touch with the skin. It is because of some of these triggering conditions, that essential oils for eczema treatment are regarded as effective. Let us now look at the overall, common effects of essential oils in this context.
Specific benefits of essential oils for eczema
Essential oils have proven benefits that are attributed to the properties of essential oils – antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic. Many oils have been documented to have an effect in alleviating certain conditions, either as a part of treatment regimen or alone. In addition to this, almost all essential oils have common properties in relieving anxiety and handling sleep disorders. The ability of the oils to reduce stress and help individuals sleep peaceful are helpful in treating conditions that cause sleeplessness and stress. The combination of reasons makes essential oils one of the more popular treatment options for varying medical conditions. These benefits justify the use of essential oils for eczema treatment. Essential oils are either used as topical applications or are infused with other oils for inhaling as aroma therapy. Some oils are also used in baths that help to soothe and relieve conditions.
The benefits and effects of essential oils often go beyond the commonly effects with some oils known to be hypotensive in nature. This mechanism of action, along with other properties such as decongestion, respiratory disinfection and stimulation of the olfactory system makes the oils highly useful in treating various conditions. This is important in the context of eczema as in a large number of cases the symptoms are triggered as a result of allergies. Individuals who are sensitized to certain allergens or specific conditions will find the use of essential oils for eczema to be soothing, which will complement the medication and offer better relief.
Top essential oils for eczema
Here is a brief profile of some of the top essential oils for eczema. It is necessary to use the oil with caution as highlighted in subsequent section, alongwith suitable carrier oils.
#1 Tea tree essential oil – Commonly known as TTO, this oil is known for certain properties that make it suitable for treating eczema. This includes, inflammation, reddishness, and irritation commonly associated with the condition. The oil is generally used at bedtime to ensure that patients sleep peacefully without having to suffer from sleeplessness due to pain and irritation.
#2 Lavender essential oil – One of the most common and popular essential oils of all time, lavender has potent antiseptic properties in addition to exercising a soothing effect on the area where it is applied. This combines with the overall stress relieving property of the oil that helps individuals fighting a flare up on exposure to certain conditions.
#3 Bergamot essential oil – This is highly suitable for the treatment of eczema as it possesses healing inflamed skin and most importantly in the regulation of sebum. This helps in swift healing process that makes the oil most suitable among essential oils for eczema. The application of the oil has to be performed with complete caution due to its potent nature. It has to be applied only during the nights and never in the day, as exposure to sunlight can cause irritation of the skin.
#4 Frankincense essential oil – One of the oldest essential oils in the history of mankind, Frankincense has astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes the oil suitable for healing of wounds and scars that are often caused by eczema. The improvement of skin tone and natural healing of wounds makes the oil one of the most popular and proven among individuals who use essential oils for treating eczema.
#5 Geranium essential oil – This essential oil has strong properties that make it highly suitable for treating eczema. A large number of individuals are unlikely to have heard about the astringent, deodorant and antiseptic properties of the oil. The soothing properties of the oil, the ability to balance sebum, and the power to treat scarred skin makes it effective in treating symptoms that are commonly associated with eczema.
#6 Chamomile essential oil – Another example of an effective essential oil, Chamomile has compounds that give it anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to healing effects in treating damaged tissues. Additionally, the oil has antiseptic and antifungal properties that make it potent in treating conditions that are symptomatic with eczema.
#7 Tamanu essential oil – This essential oil may be relatively unknown, but is one of the most effective oils in skin care. It possesses strong rejuvenation properties that restores skin tone and elasticity, in addition to treating pain and inflammation that is commonly experienced by individuals suffering from atopic eczema.
Common carrier oils typically used alongwith essential oils
Essential oils are never used without carrier oils. It is necessary to understand the condition fully and choose the most suitable carrier oil. Some of the most common carrier oils that are used in combination with essential oils include olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, moringa oil, almond oil, and argan oil. The reason behind the use of carrier oils is primarily because of volatile and concentrated nature of the essential oils. Not only will the oil evaporate quickly it is also too strong to be used for application on the skin directly. The right combination of carrier oils and essential oils ensures that the medicinal properties of the oil work effectively without causing any adverse side effects on the area of application.
The need for exercising caution while using essential oils for eczema
While it is true that the use of essential oils for eczema have proven results, it is also important to understand that various oils have potent properties. Essential oils are not classified alongside medication but belong to an entirely different category. In other words, while essential oils have been studied, and their effects documented, the actual mechanism of action has not been scientifically and sufficiently studied. It is therefore important to seek medical advice before using essential oils alongside medication. It is also important to not overdo the use of essential oils but to use only the right proportions, sufficiently diluted. Some of the oils are potent, which makes it necessary to distinguish between the potent oils and the not so potent oils. Rely on the best brands and understand the method of extraction used in the particular oil to learn of the concentrated value. The use of essential oils as topical applications should always be restricted to safe areas, and are not to be applied in sensitive parts of the body.