Eczema is a skin condition marked by intensive itchiness, redness, dryness and sometimes even pain.  The good news is that if you or someone in your family has eczema, there are plenty of things you can do right at home to help improve this uncomfortable condition.

Lifestyle Changes

There are several lifestyle changes that you can make that can help to improve the condition of your skin if you have eczema – and the good news is that most of them are really simple to do!  They can include:

  • Changing out your detergents, soaps and other cleaners to ones that are all-natural and free of dyes and perfumes. These can often cause eczema or make the situation worse.
  • Avoiding tight-fitting or rough clothing and opting for clothing that is loose-fitting and made from cotton or other breathable material.
  • Taking showers or baths in lukewarm rather than extremely hot water.
  • Meditating, practicing yoga or tai chi or engaging in other activities that help you manage stress. Stress and anxiety can make this problem worse.
  • Using probiotics or eating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt; although this is not a short-term solution, some people with eczema find that probiotic therapy can help over time.

Over-the-Counter Medications

In addition to the lifestyle changes mentioned above, there are also several over-the-counter medications that can help to control or improve this condition. They include:

  • Topical corticosteroid cream (to help reduce inflammation)
  • Topical calamine lotion (also has anti-inflammatory properties)
  • Topical emollients, which are creams usually based on petroleum jelly and which help to moisturize very dry skin
  • Oral antihistamines like Benedryl which also help to reduce an allergic or inflammatory response

Even though you do not need a prescription for any of these medications, it is still a good idea to let your doctor know what you are going to try, especially if you are already taking other medications. This will keep your doctor in the loop and help prevent the possibility of drug-drug interactions.

Natural Remedies

For those who want to try natural remedies, there are plenty to choose from as well.  These include:

  • Topical use of coconut oil, jojoba oil or glycerin; all three of these products can help to deeply moisturize the very dry skin that eczema can cause. Coconut oil is known for its ability to reduce irritation while jojoba, which is chemically similar to sebum, the natural oil in human skin, is good for relieving dryness.
  • Epsom salts or oatmeal bath. Adding a cup of Epsom salts or a cup of oatmeal tied up in a bag of cheesecloth is another great way to help with the discomfort of eczema. Both can help reduce the irritation and inflammation that eczema brings with it.  A soak of 10-15 minutes in a tub of lukewarm water with either of these added can bring much-needed relief.
  • Topical use of honey. Honey has many qualities which make it ideal for eczema treatment: it is a humectant, which means it draws in water to help moisturize an area deeply. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to reduce redness and itching and antimicrobial properties to help prevent a secondary infection.
  • Chamomile tea. When applied directly to the skin with a cotton ball, chamomile tea can help to reduce inflammation and itchiness due to a compound called bisabolol.  This compound, like honey, has antimicrobial properties and can also prevent a secondary infection.
  • Topical use of French green clay. The thought of smearing dirt on yourself might sound strange, but this special clay has long been used for a variety of skin conditions.  It is rich in minerals like magnesium, iron and calcium to help nourish the skin and can help bring down pain, redness and itchiness due to its anti-inflammatory properties. While it is not as easy to find as most of the other home natural remedies mentioned, it is available in many health food/natural health stores.

As most of you probably already know, eczema can be a difficult condition to treat – and what works for one person might not work for another. It might be handy to keep a notebook of what treatments you are trying and also how your symptoms are so that you can find patterns and hopefully discover a treatment (or combination of treatments) that best suits your individual needs.