Eczema is a medical condition which can have a wide variety of causes, from allergic reactions to fevers to irritants such as household cleaners. Eczema results in rough, inflamed patches of skin that can break out with small blisters and bleeding. These patches can be very itchy, causing the sufferer to scratch, which can further irritate the skin. Talking to a qualified healthcare provider is the first step, followed by finding and avoiding potential triggers of eczema whenever possible.
The exact cause of Psoriasis is not fully understood, but it’s believed an overactive immune system is a contributing factor. The inflammation in the body which leads to Psoriasis can appear as a scaly buildup of skin cells on the skin. These patches are often itchy, dry, and may occasionally crack or bleed.
Eczema and Psoriasis can be highly visible conditions which can cause stress, self-esteem issues, and negatively impact an individual’s social life. Finding a way to soothe, calm, or help clear up these conditions can make a big difference physically, psychologically and on a social level.
*Disclaimer: For your safety, check with your physician and pharmacist before starting any exercise program or using natural remedies — especially if you take prescription medications (some herbs, oils, or other natural remedies may interact with your medications), or if you have preexisting conditions.
For conditions where excessive inflammation is a concern, making dietary changes can make a considerable improvement. Some dietary adjustments are easier to make than others, but each time you make positive improvements to your diet, you positively impact your health.
Consider dietary upgrades like:
- A diet rich in colorful vegetables
- Incorporate inflammation reducing nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts
- Include unrefined whole grains
- Add more beans to your diet which are loaded with fiber, antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory properties
Reduce or eliminate foods which have been reported to increase inflammation such as:
- Additives like aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Refined grains which have a higher glycemic index and can be processed in the body similarly to sugar
- Deep fried foods and other foods containing saturated and trans fats
- Swap vegetable oil with extra virgin olive oil
- Consider reducing or eliminating milk-based products from your diet.
Carefully choosing foods that are nutritious and healthful can result in a body that is more balanced and vigorous, and is a great first step toward decreasing excess inflammation in the body.
Essential Oils for Eczema and Psoriasis
Damage to the skin, including lesions caused by psoriasis or non-infectious skin diseases such as eczema, can create weak points for bacteria to enter causing infections. Preventing infection and calming inflammation are ideal ways which essential oils are especially suited to help improve these conditions. There are several essential oils which can be used to reduce inflammation while also cleansing the skin.
Below we have listed a few oils to get you started in your search for what works best for you. It’s also important to keep in mind that oils are often blended together to create a synergistic effect. You can purchase oils which are pre-blended for specific purposes, or you can choose to try blending oils you, personally enjoy. Many people find experimenting with essential oils a fun, informative, and effective form of self-care.
Salve-ation Eczema and Psoriasis Blend
Salve-ation by Davina Wellness is designed to include oils that have powerful antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The result is a blend that helps heal by soothing irritation and calming skin as it cleanses, protecting sensitive skin from infection as it heals. Salve-ation is a comforting and balancing blend that inspires a tranquil atmosphere and reduction of stress–a common factor that can cause skin flare-ups.
- One way to use Salve-ation, is to apply coconut oil to the skin and then apply a drop of Salve-ation afterward and rub it in. The coconut oil has some antibacterial properties, as well as a more emollient feel which some people prefer, especially those with dry skin.
- Salve-ation also comes in a convenient rollerball bottle for those who’d rather just roll-it-on and go. This makes it easier to apply the oil away from home.
Lavender has properties which are ideal for treating conditions like eczema and psoriasis. As an anti-inflammatory(3,7), it can be used to soothe inflammation, allowing skin to heal while it helps reduce excess redness and irritation. Lavender has also been studied for its ability to reduce pain(4-7), and for those who experience discomfort because of their skin conditions, Lavender essential oil can make a difference.
- Lavender was reportedly able to reduce pain through inhalation as well as topical application(4), so you can decide whether you’d rather put a few drops in your diffuser, or dilute Lavender and apply it topically.
Frankincense has been used to improve skin texture, to tone and lift aging skin, to improve damaged skin and more. Frankincense may have antiproliferative activity(17) which may be helpful to those with psoriasis. As an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory it can help eliminate free radicals while easing inflammation and associated discomfort(16). Frankincense is a classic essential oil that has been valued since Biblical times, and is easy to incorporate into home health practices.
- Try adding Frankincense to your favorite lotions, creams, skin ointments, or to a carrier oil such as coconut oil and apply to locations of concern. Use our dilution chart to help you find the right amount for your needs.
Having antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, Tea Tree is valuable as a cleanser and is often used in beauty products such as skin and hair products. It can provide gentle cleansing while it helps reduce inflammation. Studies indicate Tea Tree may suppress histamine release(1,2), which means Tea Tree essential oil may help reduce the likelihood of eczema and psoriasis breakouts due to allergies.
- Tea Tree essential oil can be diluted and applied topically to help cleanse skin and reduce inflammation, reducing the chances of infection, and encouraging your skin heal.
Geranium is a floral scented essential oil that is often used in beauty products, both for its aroma, and for its beneficial properties. Geranium can help protect your skin as it heals. It’s been shown in a lab environment, that when used alone or combined with Tea Tree, Geranium was active against MRSA and EMERSA(10). Along with its use as a purifier, it can be used to help reduce swelling and inflammation(14,15). Geranium essential oil is very potent, and a small amount goes a long way.
- A drop of Geranium can be added to your favorite natural lotion or carrier oil and applied topically to areas of concern.
Fungal infections are a very common issue for those with compromised skin. As a powerful anti-inflammatory and antifungal(8), Lemongrass can reduce inflammation and help protect skin as it heals. One study, using mice, found that when applied topically, Lemongrass essential oil had a potent anti-inflammatory effect, and an oral dose also showed anti-inflammatory action(8). There is another study using human skin cells that shows that Lemongrass essential oil is a good therapeutic candidate for treating inflammatory conditions of the skin(9).
- Lemongrass can be diluted and applied topically to areas of concern. For more information on taking essential oils internally, please read our Internal Use page.
Experimenting with Essential Oils
If you’re the kind of person that enjoys the challenge of blending their own mix, you may want to combine the above oils with other anti-inflammatory oils and/or gentle skin cleansers or oils which help protect and heal the skin. Use the filter on any Davina Wellness shop page to help you search for specific therapeutic properties or ailments. Once you find oils you are interested in, you can blend them with other oils you enjoy or with oils that are also great for skin health. Many people find great personal enjoyment in creating custom blends for their own use.
After you have decided on which oils you are interested in, check out the Dilution Guidelines Page if you’d like to learn more about how to use your oils on your skin safely.
Herbs and Supplements
There are many herbs and supplements which may be used to help reduce inflammation, ease symptoms, and increase overall health. As with any natural approach, one type of treatment does not necessarily work for everyone. What works incredibly well for one person, may not work for others, so finding what works well for you is likely going to take time, and some trial and error.
There are many options available, we have listed just a couple to get you started:
Capsaicin, a compound present in chili peppers, has been added to creams and ointments to help block nerve endings from transmitting pain. Research suggests that capsaicin may help inhibit the growth of psoriasis on the surface of the skin(12), and reduce symptoms of psoriasis such as pain and inflammation(11). There are many types of creams, ointments, and lotions available on the market. However, not everyone likes the hot/cold sensation capsaicin can produce.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been shown to possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is reported to inhibit several inflammatory enzymes mainly involved in the inflammatory process of psoriasis(13). Whether you choose the essential oil or the herb, many have found Turmeric to be a valuable addition to their wellbeing.
Black pepper is an important supplement that needs to be taken in order to absorb the effects of Turmeric. Many Turmeric supplements on the market already contain Black Pepper in the formula. It is important to note that the essential oil of Black Pepper does not contain the constituent piperine, which is responsible for aiding in the absorption of Turmeric.
Other Ways to Soothe Dry Itchy Skin
To ease the painful, itchy, dry, and damaged skin caused by eczema and psoriasis, many find relief in natural remedies. Raw coconut oil can provide soothing comfort and creates a reasonably thick barrier to the elements. An ointment containing honey, beeswax and olive oil is another popular option many people feel good applying to their skin. Another is to use an oat compress or mask, which uses a combination of oats, honey, yogurt, and water.
There are a huge variety of lotions designed for eczema and psoriasis sufferers, and though the idea of wading through the options may seem daunting, you can simplify the process for looking for the qualities that matter most to you. All natural, is one example, or maybe you want a cream with a certain ingredient such as honey or oatmeal. You can always add a drop of your favorite essential oil to your lotion to add aroma or beneficial properties as well.
- Koh, K., Pearce, A., Marshama, G., Finlay-Jones, J. and Hart, P. (2002) Tea tree oil reduces histamine-induced skin inflammation. British Journal of Dermatology 147, 1212-1217.
- Brand, C., Townley, S., Finlay-Jones, J and Hart, P. (2002) Tea tree oil reduces histamine-induced oedema in murine ears. Inflammation Research 51, 283-289.
- Rivot, J. P., Montagne-Clavel, J. and Besson, J. M. (2002) Subcutaneous formalin and carrageenan increase nitric acid release as measured by in vivo voltammetry in the spinal cord. European Journal of Pain 6, 25-34.
- Kim, K.T., Ren, C.J., Fielding, G.A., Pitti, A., Kasumi, T., Wajda, M., Lebovits, A. and Bekker, A. (2007) Treatment with lavender aromatherapy in the post-anesthesia care unit reduces opioid requirements of morbidly obese patients undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. Obesity Surgery 17, 7, 920-925.
- Ou, M.C., Hsu, T.F., Lai, L.C., Lin, Y.T. & Lin, C.C. (2012) Pain relief assessment by aromatic essential oil massage on outpatients with primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research 38, 5, 817-822.
- Ou, M.C., Lee, Y.F., Li, C.C. and Wu, S.K. (2014) The effectiveness of essential oils for patients with neck pain: a randomized controlled study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 20, 10, 771-779.
- Peanna, A.T., D’Aquila, P.S., Panin, F., Serra, G., Pippia, P. and Moretti, M.D. (2002) Anti-inflammatory activity of linalool and linalyl acetate constituents of essential oils. Phytomedicine 9, 721-726.
- Boukhatem, M.N., Ferhat, M.A., Kameli, A., Saidi, F. and Kebir, H.T. (2014) Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil as a potent anti-inflammatory and antifungal drug. Libyan Journal of Medicine 9, 25431.
- Han, X., & Parker, T. L. (2017). Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) essential oil demonstrated anti-inflammatory effect in pre-inflamed human dermal fibroblasts. Biochimie open, 4, 107-111. doi:10.1016/j.biopen.2017.03.004.
- Edwards-Jones, V., Buck, R., Shawcross S.G., Dawson, M.M. and Dunn, K. (2004) The effect of essential oils on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus using a dressing model. Burns 30, 8, 772-777.
- Krishnapura Srinivasan (2016) Biological Activities of Red Pepper (Capsicum annuum) and Its Pungent Principle Capsaicin: A Review, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 56:9, 1488-1500, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2013.772090
- Yu C. S. (2011). Study on HIF-1α Gene Translation in Psoriatic Epidermis with the Topical Treatment of Capsaicin Ointment. ISRN pharmaceutics, 2011, 821874.
- Sarafian, G., Afshar, M., Mansouri, P., Asgarpanah, J., Raoufinejad, K., & Rajabi, M. (2015). Topical Turmeric Microemulgel in the Management of Plaque Psoriasis; A Clinical Evaluation. Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research : IJPR, 14(3), 865-76.
- Maruyama, N., Ishibashi, H., Hu, W., Morofuji, S. and Yamaguchi, H. (2006) Suppression of carrageenan and collagen induced inflammation in mice by geranium oil. Mediators of Inflammation 3, 1-7.
- Su, Y.W., Chao, S.H., Lee, M.H., Ou, T.Y. and Tsai, Y.C. (2010) Inhibitory effects of citronellol and geraniol on nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2 production in macrophages. Planta Medica 76, 1666-1671.
- Hirota, R., Roger, N.N., Nakamura, H., Song, H.-S., Sawamura, M., and Suganuma, N. (2010) Anti-inflammatory effects of limonene from yuzu (Citrus junos Tanaka) essential oil on eosinophils. Journal of Food Science 75, 87-92.
- Han X., Rodriguez D., Parker T.L. Biological activities of frankincense essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts. Biochim. Open. 2017;4:31–35.