The word ‘eczema’ comes from the Greek word ekzein meaning “to boil out“. And if we look for a moment at the bodymind dialogue as Shapiro (2007) did, it might indicate that your boundaries are feeling threatened or imposed upon. The cause of atopic eczema is unknown. General triggers include: irritants, allergens, microbes, hot or cold temperatures, food, stress and hormones. The condition can impact at any age. Generally it occurs during infancy or early childhood. Atopic eczema is a condition marked by papules, expecially of the flexural surfaces of the knees and elbows. Eczema is characterized by frequent relapses of skin itching, erythema, scratching, and discharge. Chronic scratching may lead to an acute secondary bacterial infection. It can severely affect the patients’ quality of life. Eczema is non-infectious inflammatory condition of the skin.
Aromatherapy for Eczema Relief
Aromatherapy with its holistic approach can help to discover the cause of the rash, whether this is a physical irritant, emotional stress or combination of both. Essential oils and aromatherapy can be beneficial for the management of eczema.
Aromatherapy Treatment can help by
Reducing inflammation – many essential oils have anti-inflamatory therapeutic properties.
Reducing itching – essential oils and carrier oils have soothing, emollient, moisturising properties.
Preventing any skin infections developing – essential oils present antiseptic, antimicrobial, antifungal properties.
Taking care of your emotional state – self-massage and baths can be used at home. Aromatherapy massage should be considered when the person is feeling particularly stressed or as a way to prevent a built up of emotional tension.
Davis (2007) points out that a child may have eczema in reaction to the parents’ tension. There is also evidence to suggest an association between prenatal maternal stress and the development of asthma or other atopic diseases in offspring.
-Essential oils and carrier oils-
Let’s look at plant-based (carrier) oils and essentials oils which are thought to manage and/or treat eczema and its symptoms.
Carrier oils for treatment of eczema
Almond Oil (Prunus amygdalus dulcis) – This oil is a great emollient and nourishes dry skin. It is beneficial in relieving the itching caused by eczema.
Hemp Seed Oil (Cannabis sativa) – another rich source of essential fatty acids and has been found to provide relief from the itchy symptoms of eczema.
Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia sinensis) – Its molecular structure is very similar to that of sebum, the natural oil produced by our skin, which means that it absorbs very easily and does not feel greasy. Its therapeutic properties include uses for dry skin and eczema.
Apricot Kernel Oil (Prunus armeniaca) – Very similar in chemical makeup to almond oil, apricot kernel oil is also a great emollient and nourishing oil. Apricot kernel oil is softening, easily absorbed and also great for relieving the itchy symptoms of eczema. This oil is used less than almond oil as it is slightly more expensive.
Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis) – rich in unsaturated gamma linolenic fatty acids (G.L.A.) which are used to repair and maintain skin tissue. It is thought to be helpful for eczema and wound healing. It can be taken in the form of the capsules and applied to the skin during massage, and added into creams and lotions.
Calendula Oil (Calendula officinalis) – This oil is obtained by infusing calendula’s orange petals in another vegetable oil in order to extract its properties. This process is known as maceration. Calendula is known for its great skin properties and can be used to treat bruises, cuts and eczema. It is also useful for chapped and dry skin.
Essential oils for eczema
Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) Antiseptic; antimicrobial; antidepressant; calms nervous activity; increases local blood circulation, heals wounds, cuts, and sores. Its anti-inflammatory properties makes it beneficial for conditions involving inflammation of the skin such as eczema, psoriasis, wounds, sunburns and dermatitis.
Roman and German chamomile (Anthemis nobilis or Matricaria recutita) Traditionally, chamomile has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiseptic, antioxidant, mild astringent and healing medicine. Camomile is very valuable for many skin problems, especially where the skin is red, dry and sensitive. It can be used directly on the skin in aromatic waters or carrier oils, lotions and creams. Topical applications of chamomile have been shown to be effective in the treatment of atopic eczema. In one trial with humans, chamomile was found to have an effect that was 60% as active as 0.25% hydrocortisone when applied topically.
Everlasting (Helichrysum italicum) It is reputed to have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antimicrobial properties and it is recommended for eczema and allegries. It an help to calm down inflamed tissue and promote process of regeneration of the skin .
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Its antiseptic, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties make this oil and excellent remedy for skin problems. It may be used to soothe irritated skin when affected by eczema.
Myrrh (Myrrus communis) Due to its antiseptic, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties, Myrrh essential oil is beneficial for wounds that are slow to heal, chapped skin, and for weepy eczema. In one study it has been show that Myrrh oil among other oils caused a significant improvement on childhood atopic eczema.
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) This oil,, with the scent of the rose is valued in aromatherapy and used in massage to relieve symptoms of psoriasis and eczema.
Rose (Rosa demascena) Therapeutic remedies containing rose have a cooling and soothing influance on the skin. Rose oil has emollient, softening and hydrating properties, which accompanied by its antiseptic qualities, make it ideal for treating eczema.
Neroli (Citrus aurantium var amara) The oil is reputed to have rejuvenating effect on the skin. It has ability to stimulate the growth of healthy new cells. It is recomended for redness and itching.
Sandalwood (Santalum album) It is soothing, cooling and moisturising and primarily used for dry skin conditions caused by loss of moisture and skin inflammation. It can be used to relieve eczema and psoriasis.
Note The importance of using good quality, pure essential oils is vital to minimize any adverse associated symptoms and to ensure the desired therapeutic within the body.
How to Dilute Your Essential Oils for Topical Use
Using a 2% essential oil dilution is considered a safe guideline for topical application of essential oils on adults. For children or elderly, reduce the dilution down to 1% or 0.5%. With children, use only essential oils regarded as safe for children unless you have educated yourself very well on aromatherapy for children.
1% dilution – 1drop in 5mls of carrier oil
2% dilution – 2drops in 5mls of carrier oil
In Ayurvedic Medicine factors causing eczema include poor digestion, toxins in the bowel, incorrect diet, over use of sour, salty, or pungent tastes, heavy, sweet or oily foods, as well as over-use of cosmetics, perfumes, synthetic creams, etc. It is certainly linked to allergies, particularly to dairy or sugar in young children.
Evening primrose oil Normalises the essential fatty acid imbalances and reduces symptoms of eczema. The action of Evening Primrose oil results from the fact that it contains a high level of gamma linoleic acid (G.L.A.)
Nettle Used parts – leaves. Nettle leaves were traditionally used to purify the blood, because this plant helps to remove toxins from the body. Nettle is used in natural medicine to treat certain skin conditions such as eczema, which, as some herbalists believe, are associated with the accumulation of toxins. It is believed that nettle has also anti-allergic action.
Chamomile Plenty of Chamomile tea should be taken as well to promote inner balance. Chamomile tea can also be used as a skin compress. The compress provides a cooling effect to dry, red skin caused by eczema and reduces skin irritability considerably.
Probiotics (bifidobacteria and lactobacillus, 3 – 5 billion live organisms per day) may boost the immune system and control allergies, especially in children.
Avoid Dairy products, sugar, refined and processed foods, fats and fried foods in your diet.