The Best Natural and Essential Oils to Help Soothe Eczema-Prone Skin
Want to go natural? With your dermatologist's okay, these nourishing oils may be an appropriate addition to your eczema treatment regimen.
All products and services featured here are chosen for their potential to inspire and enable your wellness. Everyday Health may earn an affiliate commission on items you purchase.
Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions, affecting close to 30 million Americans, according to the National Eczema Association (NEA). There are also several types of eczema: atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and stasis dermatitis. Each type of eczema presents different symptoms, ranging from inflamed skin to unpleasant oozing scabs.
Usually over-the-counter creams or lotions will keep symptoms under control, but in some cases, people with eczema cannot tolerate even basic formulas. “Even brands for sensitive skin often contain some type of preservative,” explains Jeremy Fenton, MD, Medical Director for Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “For these patients, I do recommend trying either plain petroleum jelly or a natural oil.”
Natural oils have a long history of stress-reducing and anti-inflammatory properties that may provide relief for many patients.
Of course, you should always consult a doctor or dermatologist about treatment options, especially if you’re already on medication for eczema. They may be able to prescribe additional prescription topical medications, immunosuppressants, or biologic drugs, or explain how natural oils can help.
RELATED: 6 Natural Oils (Other Than Coconut) for More Radiant Skin
If you’re interested in finding a more natural way to help treat mild eczema flare-ups, here are our top picks for natural or essential oils for eczema.
Essential oils can cause an itchy rash similar to poison rash in people who are allergic to the fragrance or the oil itself. People with sensitive and eczema-prone skin are especially at risk. Ask your dermatologist about these risks and how to test for a possible allergy before applying them.
This portion of the story was medically reviewed by Ross Radusky, MD
Anjou Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
While coconut is not an essential oil, it may help some people who suffer from eczema. “There is some evidence to suggest that coconut oil contains other components that can help soothe the skin with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Fenton, supporting a study published in December 2009 in Pharmaceutical Biology. This versatile oil can also be used on the hair, scalp, and nails. Anjou Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cold-pressed, and unrefined.
doTerra Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender oil may help reduce inflammation and restore balance to the skin. “Lavender oil has exceptional anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It’s a good choice for people with sensitive skin,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in New York City. Lavender, such as doTerra Lavendar Essential Oil, is particularly good for people with redness due to rosacea and skin that is irritated by eczema, Dr. Jaliman adds. Be sure to use this essential oil with a carrier oil, or add a few drops of it to your bath water. Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved lavender for medicinal use, be absolutely sure it’s safe to add to your skincare regimen by consulting with your doctor beforehand.
Plant Therapy USDA Certified Organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Research suggests that eucalyptus oil may be an effective treatment for wounds and skin infections, thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects. When an eczema flare-up occurs, massage the oil into the skin in a circular motion. Plant Therapy recommends that you dilute the oil first, and the company says its oil doesn’t contain fillers, additives, bases, or carriers. It can also be used in a diffuser to help ease symptoms of the common cold and flu.
Jojoba Oil by Leven Rose
People who manage eczema don’t have the ability to produce or maintain a proper barrier on the skin, according to the NEA. Jojoba Oil by Leven Rose is nutrient-dense, made with no additives or parabens, and can be used as a natural skin conditioner. “It can seal in the moisture and form an effective barrier to external elements, such as cold weather, which generally dries out the skin,” says Jaliman. “It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe irritated skin.”
Life-Flo Pure Sunflower Oil
Essential oils are potent, so they need to be diluted with carrier oils. Sunflower oil makes an excellent carrier oil because it’s rich in vitamins A, C, and E. It helps replenish lost moisture, soothe the skin and the scalp, and reduce inflammation. Life-Flo Sunflower Oil is made from cold-pressed organic sunflower seeds, so you know that you’re getting quality ingredients. Plus, no chemicals, parabens, artificial colors, or artificial fragrance are added.
Tea Tree 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil
A study published in July 2011 in the Archives of Dermatological Research suggests that tea tree oil mayo be more effective than zinc oxide in the topical treatment of eczema. Fenton says eczema also lowers a person’s ability to fight off bacterial or viral infections, which can cause further irritation on the skin and increase the risk of infection. Tea tree oil has antiviral properties that may make it beneficial to use on broken or cracked skin to help prevent infection. Try Tea Tree 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) for a nourishing, healing blend.
Herb Pharm Certified Organic Calendula Oil
“Calendula oil is an excellent humectant for dry skin, and for severely chapped and broken skin,” says Jaliman. It also has calming and anti-inflammatory properties that may help with skin conditions, according to a study published in June 2013 in Advances in Dermatology and Allergology. Herb Pharm’s certified organic calendula officinalis plants are grown in Oregon without any genetically modified ingredients. The flowers are then hand-harvested while in full bloom, so they retain their full color and aroma, and they’re cold-pressed to help ensure that they retain their potency.