Heal Your Eczema Naturally With Home Remedies
Eczema is no joke. If you have ever suffered from it, you know. Some things help, and some things that seem like they should help, don't, and actually make it worse. Here are some tips for treating eczema, home remedies that really work. I first got minor eczema as a teen, just out of high school and off to college. Something changed in my lifestyle that brought on eczema.
In Hot Water:
I loved the dorms in college. It was fun being away from the folks and living with all those kids my age, all of us out on our own for the first time. One thing I really loved was the hot water in the showers.
I grew up in an old house with a fairly primitive hot water system, much too small for a family with five kids. We were lucky to get a good, hot bath or shower. The first person to take one was all right, but everyone after him got warm water at best, ending with cold. I hate cold water! In those days people still believed that kids didn't need baths more than once a week anyway, so I rarely got a good, really hot bath.
The dorm showers were hot, endless hot water. I was in sports, so I took a shower after training, another before bedtime, and in the mornings when I got up. Three hot showers most days. Long showers. A few months at school and I noticed that the backs of my knees always itched. A red rash that never healed and quickly got worse if I scratched at all.
I tried various creams, hand lotions, Vaseline, but none helped much. Cortisone creams would make it disappear for a while, but it always came back. I had that, my first bout of eczema, for over ten years. Gradually, more patches appeared in other places, my eyelids, ears. The eyelids were the worst, it was impossible to resist the urge to scratch, which made it spread.
When I was in my late twenties I lived in cheap, unheated apartment. One day in late winter the water heater for my apartment broke, and it took the manager TWO WEEKS to get around to fixing it. I started taking the quickest showers possible, in cold water, in a cold apartment, in the winter. My eczema went into remission. It returned the day after the shower got fixed. Scratch head. A connection? I didn't test it then, it was just too cold, but when the weather warmed, I did.
I started taking showers with the water just warm, not hot. As the weather warmed, my showers cooled. By mid-summer I was taking pure cold showers, and had no eczema.
Hot water causes eczema, or at least makes it worse. In the summer I still take cool showers, but as soon as the weather turns every fall, and I heat up my water, it returns. I still hate cold showers, unless the weather is boiling. I put up with minor flareups, and it never gets as bad as it used to.
Shampoo and Soap:
What should you do when the eczema flares up? One thing that doesn't help at all is skin creams used for 'moisturizing'. They all seem to make it worse. The cause may be an ingredient added to most hand creams and many other body care products, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Check your bottles of shampoo and hand cream, soap, most contain lauryl sulfate. Avoid them! They weaken the skin by stripping out the natural oils that protect your skin.
Since I get eczema on my eyelids, shampoo is out. Shampoo is guaranteed to cause my eyelids to itch. I wash my hair with plain bar soap, or, just rinse it with water. Some soaps seem to aggravate eczema and others don't. Two that are good are: Ivory Soap, and Olay.
What should you do for the patches of eczema you have? Cortisone creams do work, but they actually have the long-term effect of thinning and weakening your skin, exactly what you DON'T want if you have eczema. Use them carefully and stop as soon as you can. Cortisone also can't (or shouldn't) be used around the eyes. Over the long term it can cause eye damage.
If skin creams don't help, what does? Butter. (What? I'm not gonna spread grease on my skin!) Well, I am sorry, but butter really does help. And it isn't greasy once you have it on. It feels greasy for a few moments, then it is absorbed into the skin and completely disappears. It doesn't even smell after a few minutes.
Let me tell you, I didn't try butter until I was being driven crazy by the itching on my eyelids! I was trying everything I could think of, and butter helped. I actually use it sometimes when my hands are really dry and chapped in the winter. It works better than expensive hand lotions. It is natural, and cheap.
A friend from Indonesia taught me this trick. Indonesia is a tropical country, and his skin couldn't stand our cold, dry winters. He added coconut oil to the bathwater. It really works. I have also used olive oil. Just a few spoons-full, mixed with a gentle liquid soap and added to the hot water. Your skin feels great.
I almost didn't add this last one, as I have never personally tried it. Some doctors are now advising people with eczema to put a little bleach in the bath water twice a week. The idea of soaking in bleach-water scares me a bit, but they claim it really works, and it is a cheap cure you can do at home with simple ingredients, so I decided to include it. I urge you to read this article which explains how to do it.
Be careful, bleach is dangerous if you use too much. The reason it helps is that a bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, infects skin with eczema and makes it worse. Bleach kills the bacteria. Please ask your doctor before trying this. Bleach can damage your skin very badly if you do it wrong, use too much. Besides, there are different kinds of eczema, with different causes, and yours may not be caused by bacteria.
I hope that these hints and tips help someone who is treating their eczema and not having much luck. Some home remedies really can work.
Some New Info!
This winter I really went wild with the hot showers, and my skin responded as expected. I started getting itchy red patches in places I had never had them, around my nose and on my neck where the razor irritates he skin. I got to thinking about the section just above this one, about the bleach cure. I can't very well use bleach water on my face!
But, if the problem is bacteria, what else could I do about that? How do the bad bacteria get to the sites of the irritation, and how do they get under the tough outer layers of the skin to infect the vulnerable lower, living skin? Well, just like your mother always said, don't scratch it!
Well, that advice is pretty dumb. People with eczema don't go around deliberately scratching! It happens unconsciously. I have even woken up in the middle of the night to find myself scratching. Sorry, my self-control goes completely to pot while I am asleep.
There is only so much you can do to stop yourself from scratching. And really, if you know anything about bacteria, you know that just touching, even gently, will spread them everywhere. So, yes, control the urge to scratch as best you can. But here is something else to try.
Control the bacteria. I started keeping my fingertips as clean as I can. I use hand sanitizer on my fingertips repeatedly during the day, and make sure my hands are well washed right before bed. Of course, keep fingernails closely trimmed to reduce damage to your skin.
Your goal is to prevent the bacteria that irritate your skin from spreading to new patches. Once you stop reinfecting your skin, your body will naturally begin to heal, even the areas already infected.
So, a couple of rules. Don't wash excessively, as that dries out your skin, but do keep your fingertips as clean as possible. It seems to be working. I have had a lot less trouble since trying this.
Comment on Tips For Treating Eczema, Hot and Cold Showers.
Bioniourn on August 31, 2015:
More of this please
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on January 04, 2014:
No reason to delete the post. I don't claim to know everything!
tcmgal on January 04, 2014:
i thought i would share my experience with it
in hopes it could be an alternative to people who have had no luck with
it has worked very well for me. i came to tcm after two years of tests and er visits and specialists. i am not the only one who is/was in that position.
as i read many sites along my journey to get help, i saw so many people who were in the same boat
and i promised to myself that if i found ANY help at all, i would try and pass it along.. i read so many stories like mine and it made me very sad..
and so when i did find help i have passed it along.
it is an alternative and of course there are good and not so good practitioners, just as with our regular dr's.
well.. no harm meant...
if you like, you may delete the post.
that's perfectly alright.
i only meant to pass along information.
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on January 04, 2014:
I don't think it is a good idea to ignore 'Western' medicine. The Chinese certainly don't! There is certainly some useful stuff in traditional medicine, but also a lot of quackery. I would advise approaching new treatments with some caution.
tcmgal on January 04, 2014:
i dont know if you have looked into traditional chinese medicine.
it is quite different that western medicine.
they look at the body as a whole rather than a specific part.
it is amazing stuff.
please look up (google etc) ' TCM eczema causes'
you can check into any problem by adding 'tcm' in front of it
this is an incredible practice.. i am not a tcm dr myself but i have been to two...
once you start looking into it, you wllll be amazed at what you find out
is actually going on...
its been a two year journey for me, with no answers from western dr's who told me i would have to 'learn to live with it'
trust me they do not know about it all.
tcm does. i hope this helps someone... :)
Apesponee on March 06, 2013:
My spouse and i utilized to acquire high on lifestyle nevertheless recently I've truly developed some sort of resistance.
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on December 02, 2012:
It was just luck for me. If my hot water hadn't gone out, I probably never would have figured it out. Best wishes for your son!
kkanova on December 02, 2012:
I absolutely agree about the hot water, I tried everything before I figured this out for my son, just then he started to get better, he is not yet 100%, but I believe next summer he will be.
eazy on March 06, 2012:
thanks for the post. i wil try it
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on April 14, 2011:
MsQuestion from New Jersey on April 14, 2011:
Thank you for this hub! I think I want to try the cold water and butter .....I already have BOTH of things, and therefore don't need to spend any money! This is a very well written and informative hub!
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on January 26, 2011:
CaveMan, The Paleo Diet did me a lot of good, but it wasn't a total cure, I still get itchy skin.
CaveMan on January 26, 2011:
So glad to see this post about cold water... I have gone gluten, soy, dairy, egg free (6 months now), and while I'm 80% better the 20% left itches like crazy in hot shower. I took my first cold shower today, and feel sooo much better. No more hot water for me.
SkinSurvival from Manchester, UK on January 21, 2011:
There are some creams that will be ok for your eczema, it's just a matter of finding the right one. I have more luck with loose, unscented lotions rather than anything thick and white. I did the dilute (no stronger than swimming pool water) bleach baths fora couple of weeks and it really seemed to help, as long as you don't have the water too hot. And I'm a big lover of coconut oil: https://hubpages.com/style/5-Beauty-Uses-of-Extra-...
SkinSurvival from Manchester, UK on January 21, 2011:
Great advice there, I have gone through similar trial and tribulations.
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on January 20, 2011:
katesn0w, I hope something here helps! Best of luck.
katesn0w on January 20, 2011:
My husband and son have had a never ending battle with eczema. Your article has been very helpful and I am excited to try some of your remedies!
StopMyEczema on January 17, 2011:
I have suffered from eczema my whole life and in order to help others such as myself, I have created an environment directed towards healing eczema. You will find a variety of treatments that can be used right from your home and tips upon tips upon tips. Stop by, you'll be surprised by what you may find.
kathryn1000 from London on November 29, 2010:
That ia really good.
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on November 21, 2010:
daPuma, triggers seem to very individual, but common ones are stress, weather, and some people claim, food. I have heard that low-fat diets are bad, and my own experience seems to confirm this. Excess washing can be bad.
My first bout was when I was in college sports, very tough training. I think that counts as stress.
daPuma5 on November 21, 2010:
My first bout with eczema came with mono; it was severe for the entire ten months I was infected, and then it disappeared. Sometimes it comes back, but not often. I haven't been able to figure out the triggers, but it has never since been severe. This was great ~ very informative. Thank you!
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on November 07, 2010:
Hi Debbie. I agree, bleach can be dangerous. But eczema can be a horrible, debilitating disease. Each person has to weigh the risks vs the benefits. Ask an eczema sufferer who has never had a date because it looks like they are rotting, if they wouldn't take the risk.
Debby Bruck on November 07, 2010:
Please do not use bleach. Carcinogenic. Sure, we know that swimming pools contain chlorine. Too much is not healthy.
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on November 01, 2010:
Marisa Wright, his body was overproducing oil to try to protect the skin, I'd guess.
Kate Swanson from Sydney on October 31, 2010:
My husband has a skin condition and we discovered the hot water connection, too. He was very reluctant to switch from hot to tepid water - he loved his hot showers! - but it made such a huge difference, he couldn't afford not to!
And BTW, his skin is very oily, and the cooler showers still made a difference. In fact, since he switched to warm showers his skin has been much LESS oily. Go figure.
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on October 31, 2010:
Susan Marion, I don't know if the lauryl sulfate-free shampoos are better, since I avoid all shampoo now. I am pretty bald so it is no great loss!
Debby Bruck, I am sure the hot water is bad for me. I suspect it strips out the natural oil that protects the skin. People with tougher skin or more oily are probably safe.
Debby Bruck on October 30, 2010:
Truly fascinating seasonal and temperature reaction. You might look into homeopathy. The homeopathic remedy Rhus tox absolutely adores HOT Showers and also has itchy skin outbreaks. Wondering if there could be any connection?
Susan Marion on October 30, 2010:
I don't have eczema, but I'm a massage therapist and I have clients who have it. What about those shampoos in health food stores without the sodium Laureth? When I was broke, I tried shampooing with soap. It felt terrible and looked worse. Great hub.
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on October 30, 2010:
My pleasure. I was lucky, it never got really serious, just patches. The main thing is the hot water.
Judicastro from birmingham, Alabama on October 30, 2010:
Great hub, voted up and useful. My son struggles with eczema. I'm going to forward this hub to him, I think it will really help him. Thanks!