Natural Treatment For Eczema

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My toddler had her second eczema flare-up about 3 weeks ago.  The first flare-up occurred at around 6 months of age and appeared when I started her on baby cereals.  It looked like a patch of small bumps on the inside of her forearm, and the pediatrician dismissed it as “normal” childhood eczema.  My baby didn’t seem bothered by it at the time, but it wouldn’t go away – until I stopped feeding her those baby cereals.

Since then, I don’t feed her anything containing wheat or processed foods.  I try not to.  Thanks to Daddy, she has had bites of cookies and donuts that contain wheat flour.  Thankfully, he doesn’t give her the whole thing; he just feels bad and wants her to enjoy “the good stuff,” too.  And she hasn’t had a reaction to little bites of the stuff.

I don’t know what triggered this most recent flare-up though.  Now that she’s older and more aware, she has been scratching the crap out of it, causing it to get red, rough, and to spread.

Since we’ve moved, I haven’t found a pediatrician for my kids yet, so I tried one that was suggested by a neighbor.  The pediatrician diagnosed her “rash” as eczema and told me to use a prescription cortisone cream and liquid Zyrtec.  He, also, told me to use a moisturizer on top of the cortisone.  I smiled and said, “Okay.”  Then left.  We went there again for my toddler’s two-year check-up and weren’t happy with them again, but that’s another post.

The over-the-counter cortisone wasn’t working, and I didn’t feel comfortable giving her a stronger prescription steroid.  I didn’t feel comfortable giving her the OTC cortisone anyway and having to give her the Zyrtec.  So I got into my research-nerd mode and started looking for a more natural course of treatment.

From everything that I read, prevention and at-home treatment includes but is not limited to:

1.  Avoiding the allergic trigger.

Well, duh.  But this could be anything!  The next best choice is to limit exposure to known irritants, such as perfumed anything (detergents, soaps, shampoos, lotions, etc.), fabrics other than cotton, certain foods (dairy, nuts, citrus, eggs, etc.), and even heat.

Check.  Check.  Check.  And check.  We avoid those anyway with our toddler.

2.  Don’t take long hot showers or use harsh soaps, as this aggravates the eczema.

Check and check.  We wash our toddler in only water anyway, and it’s luke-warm water.

She had a horrible and scary reaction to a baby soap that touts it is “Allergy Tested” and “Pediatrician Recommended.”  She got the reaction when they changed their “All Natural” formula and added Sodium Benzoate.  It took her a good two months to get rid of all the red blotches all over her skin, after we stopped using it on her.  At one point, her face had swelled up for a day.

3.  Keep the skin moisturized.

Check.  We had been using Aquaphor.

4.  Keep hydrated.

Check.  She only drinks water.  And lots of it.

Even after going this route, her eczema still got worse and spread.  Poor thing was up at all hours of the night scratching and crying.  I started wracking my brain and researching more, and this is when I found our miracle “cure.”

I came across this article while reading about natural at home remedies on NaturalNews.com:

Cure Eczema The Natural Way by Carolanne Wright

which led me to this post on NationalEczema.org:

Coconut Oil?  The author, Peter Lio, MD, says

…I do like coconut oil as it is both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. I like sunflower seed oil even more, however, as it has gamma linoleic acids that can really help the skin rebuild the barrier. There was a wonderful study using sunflower seed oil on the skin of premature babies; that oil was amazing in helping the skin build a barrier and the babies had fewer infections…

So, of course, I read some other articles about sunflower seed oil and eczema:

Treat Eczema with Sunflower!

Flower Power May Be Answer To Itchy Problem

Cost-effectiveness of skin-barrier-enhancing emollients among preterm infants in Bangladesh

After reading over and over how the skin can become infected and ooze because of constant scratching, especially in children, I knew that this was the moisturizer I needed to use.

I found a 32 oz (1 qt) bottle of sunflower seed oil for $5.99 in the baking section of Sprouts.  This is great stuff, by the way.  Absorbs quickly, but is really moisturizing.

The best part about using this on my toddler?  I can put it on her hands, and it doesn’t matter if she gets it in her mouth.  Can you say the same about cortizone or most lotions?

There’s a second part to this miracle treatment.

I kept reading about how some moms accidentally found that after their child had swam in a salt water pool, their eczema had substantially looked better.  So they went home and continued treatment with Epsom Salt in their child’s bath.  I had also read about people using sea salt.

I tried it.  I put a handful of Epsom Salt in our toddler’s bathtub one night and let her play in the water for about 10 to 15 minutes.  The next morning  her eczema patches looked noticeably better.

This treatment hasn’t “cured” it completely, as there is no cure for eczema, but my toddler’s skin is healing a lot faster and looks SO much better than it did.  It’s been a little over a week using this treatment, and although you can still see bumps, there is very little redness and she is scratching her skin considerably less.

To summarize, this is what I do:

1.  Epsom Salt Bath

Every night, I throw a handful of Epsom Salt (NOT TABLE SALT) into a baby/ toddler-sized bathtub filled with luke warm water.  I let her play in the water for about 10 to 15 minutes, and I do not use any soaps on her.

2.  Moisturize with Sunflower Seed Oil

After her bath, I massage Sunflower Seed Oil on her whole body, paying special attention to the red and/ or bumpy patches.

If your child’s skin is already cracked and peeling, and you want something thicker, I would suggest using pure lanolin.  Lansinoh is a good brand and can be found where breastfeeding products are sold in many stores.

Sunflower Seed Oil will most likely be found in the baking section of a grocery store.  I found mine at Sprouts.

Epsom Salt can be found in a drug store, and probably in the pharmacy section of a grocery store.  It’s cheap and comes in a big carton.

I am not a doctor, nor do I have a medical background.  I’m just a mom that loves to research and find more natural ways to help my family with whatever ails them.  Please, always consult with your child’s pediatrician, and be aware of your child’s possible allergies, before trying any alternative treatments.  If your child has a seed allergy, he or she may have a reaction to the sunflower seed oil.

(Okay, no, I didn’t consult with any pediatricians before I tried this.  And, yes, I have a degree in Biological Sciences, having taken an overkill and unnecessary amount of Chemistry classes for fun, so I understand some stuff.  But, please, be responsible and take personal responsibility for whatever decisions you make for your child.)

I know there are other natural treatments out there for eczema, but this is what worked for us – and it’s cheap.

Have you tried this or any other natural remedies to ease eczema flare-ups?

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21 thoughts on “Natural Treatment For Eczema”

  1. Great article. Like you I’m very much into research and natural remedies. My son’s eczema cleared up as soon as I cut out his food allergens. I found out he was allergic to wheat, eggs, dairy and a few nuts. I had become so fed up at one point that I learned how to make my own natural soaps and body oil and butter blends and used them on him. I am no fan of all these chemicals and questionable ingredients. Now I make my products for others like me and cater to ingredient and allergy conscious folks.
    I’m excited to try the epsom salt baths on him. He’s such a night owl and getting him in bed early has been a challenge. So I’m crossing my fingers that this will help him calm down sooner for an earlier night. Wish me luck!

  2. This is a good article about epsom salts and eczema. I didn’t know about sunflower oil but I do have lineolic tablets I’ll try. Thanks!

  3. I found a product by healthy times. They have a baby line that is made from organic sunflower pedal oil with chamomile. My daughter had severe weeping and infected ecxema. She is now on 10 weeks of steroids cream. It makes me sick to my stomach each time I have to use it. But, if I don’t use it, I run the risk of another course of antibiotics. If I go off them for one day, she flares. She’s already been on 3 courses of antibiotics and she’s only 5 months old. She was weeping for 10 weeks and continues to weep 😦 I found a paediatrician who was so understanding and she has referred me to an allergist even though i am just bfing. All the other doctors (derm, gp) were so hesitate because they said she will outgrow it. I’m sure if it was their child they would try to investigate what the cause/triggers are. I think as parents seeing a child suffer is the most stressful thing. I am praying that this oil will help. So far, after one day of using it, I really have seen a huge improvement. I put Vaseline on top as a barrier. As much as I don’t like using Vaseline, it’s the only barrier cream she doesn’t react too. I did some alternative testing which showed that baby was sensitive to salicylate. Sunflower seed oil is low which is why I chose to try this. Coconut is high as well as olive oil. He reacts to coconut and olive oil. So I do believe that baby must be sensitive to salicylate. I really feel for anyone having to care for a child with ecxema. I do feel that the skin is a reflection of something internal.

    1. Wow. I can only imagine what you must be going through. I remember my toddler’s first break-out (though it wasn’t as bad as what you are dealing with) and it broke my heart to see her cry and in so much discomfort. It is very stressful.

      Seeing an allergist may help with finding the cause, whether it’s environmental or dietary. Yes, she may grow out of it, but it bothers me that some doctors will not help you figure out what to do until then, except hand you a prescription and a “Good luck with that.”

      I just recently got fed up with my doctor and am looking into finding a D.O. or naturopath.

      I wish you luck, and I am glad to see your baby may have some relief using the oil instead of steroids and antibiotics. 🙂

    2. Since your baby has had so many rounds of antibiotics, please get him on a good probiotic and give it daily!! Antibiotics wipe all bad and good bacteria in the gut, and allow pathogenic bacteria and yeast to grow unchecked!

  4. Thank you for this ! Seriously useful info.

    I have bookmarked this and i also am looking forward to reading new articles.

    Keep up the great job!
    Thanks!!!

  5. Do you know if the brand of sunflower oil you used is says it’s “high oleic” or “heart friendly”. I’ve read that to get the gamma linoleic acids you shouldn’t get the “high oleic” kind, but that’s all I can find! Great post. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Janie!

      It looks like most oils that are high oleic state that fact on the bottle. At least, when I did a quick search online, that’s what it looked like.

      The bottle I have (the one in the photo) does not say “high oleic” on the bottle.

      Here are the nutrition facts from the label:

      Saturated Fat 1.5g
      Trans Fat 0g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 9g
      Monounsaturated Fat 3g

      I am going to assume that this is not high oleic, since the monounsaturated and saturated is low and the poly is high. But I am not sure.

      All I know is it works on my daughter. 🙂 I use it on her every night after her bath.

      Last month, she had an outbreak on her face, after she’d spent too much time in the sun. Being a toddler, she fights me when I try to put the oil on her face, so I stopped for a few weeks. When she broke out, I started up again and it went away after a few days.

      I hope this info helped! 🙂

  6. i totally understand what you go through. i have suffered with eczema my whole life and three years ago up until 3-4 months ago it was so severe i wouldnt leave my house for weeks at a time. i am now in control of my problem and have created a website with all kinds of information on preventing a flare-up and treatments that are good/bad. you may find it useful at http://www.eczemastruggle.co.uk we can beat this one day at a time

    1. Thanks! I just read your “About” page. When I started researching eczema, I read about experiences as severe as yours and it really scared me that my toddler might go through that.

      Her whole body was red and bumpy, and being a toddler, she cried and didn’t understand what was going on. She just kept scratching.

      This combination has been a blessing. We feed her a modified Paleo diet (she eats cheese and yogurt, too), and I am sure that this helps keep it in control.

      We use nothing with chemicals on her, and rarely use even natural soap on her.

      That has been the worst of it so far. A few months after that episode, I saw the signs of a flare-up after getting a little too much sun, and that night I used the combo. The next day, it was gone.

      Good luck to you. I look forward to reading your posts. 🙂 And thanks for visiting!

      1. i really hope your daughter is able to beat her eczema. it upsets me when i hear about young children suffering so bad. thanks for the advice on the follow button, i added one the moment i saw your comment. if i could give any advice for the future i would say, do all you can to help your daughter be stress free. if she still suffers when she gets to her older teens it may really have a bad effect on her emotionally.

        1. Thanks! I completely understand about the stress part. I try to keep my own life as stress free as possible.

          And I understand about the emotional effects, as well. I grew up with undiagnosed ADD and anxiety disorder, and thought I was just extremely “quirky” until being diagnosed as an adult.

          Lots of self-esteem issues to deal with there. 🙂

          Good luck to you and keep up with educating people about eczema!

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