9 Incredible Essential Oils for Eczema

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Eczema is a group of skin conditions that cause itchy, inflamed and swollen patches on various parts of the body. Most commonly found in infants and young children (approximately 10-20%), this condition also affects adults (roughly 3% of the population). Using essential oils for eczema is a popular approach, as this avoids using strong steroid creams and other pharmaceutical options for treatment.

Eczema comes in a number of different forms, with the most common being atopic dermatitis, as well as contact dermatitis, hand eczema and stasis dermatitis, among others. The symptoms of eczema typically begin with itching on a particular area of skin, and when these areas are scratched, a rash will appear, which can become raised, hardened or scaly. The most common areas where eczema flare-ups occur are on the hands, face, feet, knees and wrists.

Eczema also has a wide range of causes, some of which can be mitigated by the use of essential oils. This irritating skin condition is not fully understood, but is most often characterized as an overreaction of the immune system to a particular irritant or substance. These triggers can often be everyday items, such as your clothes, cigarette smoke, environmental pollutants and a wide variety of foods. By supporting the immune system and soothing inflammation, using many of the following essential oils for eczema can result in quick relief. [1]

List of Essential Oils for Eczema

Many of the top essential oils for eczema include lavender, tea tree, helichrysum, coconut, turmeric, chamomile, rosemary, geranium, cedarwood, eucalyptus and clove oils.

Essential oil bottles, body brush, and valerian flowers kept on a white dish

The best essential oils for eczema help moisturize soothe the skin. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Tea Tree Oil

Rich in anti-fungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and immune-stimulating compounds, tea tree oil is a popular choice for those suffering from chronic eczema. It is able to improve the appearance of the marks and scars left over from eczema, while also soothing the skin and preventing additional infections where the skin might be broken. [2]

How to Use – Since tea tree oil can be a drying agent, it is best to mix this oil with another carrier oil, such as coconut oil or manuka oil, and topically apply it to the area of the eczema flare-up for quick and long-lasting results, without drying out your skin.

Coconut Oil

This essential oil is used for a huge range of skin conditions, as it has anti-inflammatory, emollient and healing properties. The moisturizing capacity of coconut oil will keep the skin hydrated, while the anti-inflammatory elements will help prevent itching and soothe redness and swelling of the hardened rashes. [3]

How to Use – You only need a small amount of this oil for it to be effective, but given that coconut oil is one of the best carrier oils on the market, many people choose to blend other oils into coconut oil for an even more powerful topical application directly on the skin. Apply 2-3 times per day to quickly eliminate symptoms of eczema.

Helichrysum Oil

Rich in anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory compounds, helichrysum essential oil can tackle eczema from both sides – as a treatment and a preventative measure. By reducing the release of histamines by the body, it is possible to minimize the rash and itchiness that often accompanies eczema. [4]

How to Use – Use a few drops of oil on the site of your eczema, and re-apply at least twice a day. You should see measurable improvement within a week, or even a few days, depending on the severity of the flare-up.

Eucalyptus Oil

When the body undergoes an allergic reaction, such as what happens when an eczema flare-up occurs, there is a flood of enzymes in the body, specifically COX-2. Eucalyptus has been proven in laboratory studies to reduce this pro-inflammatory enzyme by more than 20%, making it a rapid solution to a chronic eczema condition. [5]

How to Use – This oil is particularly good for decreasing the appearance and texture of hard patches of eczema rashes, so rub 2-3 drops of this oil directly on the site of the eczema inflammation for rapid relief.

Clove Oil

The active ingredient in clove oil is eugenol, which is well known to reduce inflammation and pain in clinical applications. For eczema flare-ups, it is able to counter the irritation, reduce itching and promote healing of those patches of skin. [6]

How to Use – Due to how potent this oil is, it should typically be combined in a 1:1 ratio with a carrier oil, such as almond oil or coconut oil. This can be reapplied to the affected area 2-3 times per day for best results.

Geranium Oil

The swelling associated with eczema is often the most annoying part of the condition, but geranium oil is legendary for its ability to reduce swelling and inflammation, while also lessening the severity of allergic reactions by the body. [7]

How to Use – Topically apply a few drops of this oil to the site of your eczema, although if the irritation is on your face, it is best to blend this with a carrier oil, as it is known to cause inflammation to sensitive skin.

Rosemary Oil

Rosmarinic acid is a remarkable compound found in this oil that has astringent, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, making it ideal for tightening the skin, boosting healing and reducing the urge to itch the irritated rashes. [8]

How to Use – Many people find this oil to be too harsh on the skin, and therefore mix it with coconut oil in a 1:2 ratio (rosemary:coconut). This can provide moisturizing power to the treatment as well, and can be reapplied twice daily.

Turmeric Oil

Known as one of the most antioxidant-packed oils on the market, turmeric oil has incredible anti-inflammatory properties and can boost the immune system to function more effectively and not react to harmless irritants. [9]

How to Use – Mixing turmeric oil into your skin creams or salves is a great way to benefit from the many properties of this oil without inflaming the skin any further, due to the concentrated and potent nature of this remedy.

Cedarwood Oil

With antibacterial and astringent properties, as well as anti-inflammatory abilities, cedarwood oil can quickly eliminate the allergic reaction on your skin, promote healing, and tighten the skin to prevent scarring. [10]

How to Use – Some people choose to use a few drops of cedarwood oil in their steam inhalation treatment, particularly if the eczema is located on their face. Otherwise, simple topical application to the hands, wrists or knees is sufficient to treat eczema (only a few drops are needed).

Chamomile Oil

Famed for its anti-inflammatory and sedative effects, this oil can notably reduce the itchiness of the eczema patches, while also lowering swelling and redness, making this unsightly skin condition a bit easier and less painful to manage. [11]

How to Use – There is no need to dilute chamomile oil; simply apply 3-4 drops of this oil directly to the inflamed skin twice daily, and give it enough time to properly absorb, for best results.

A Word of Caution

While using essential oils for eczema can be highly effective for many people, these oils are highly concentrated and can result in a variety of side effects, including skin inflammation and other allergic reactions. Each oil has different volatile components that might negatively interact with the body. Before adding any essential oils to your health regimen, it is typically best to speak with your doctor to ensure that this alternative practice is right for you. Severe cases of eczema, or rapidly spreading flare-ups, should be seen by a doctor, who may recommend more aggressive treatment.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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