Eczema is a skin condition where red, itchy and scaly rashes appear on the skin. People with asthma and other allergies are more prone to it. It usually affects the tender skin behind the neck, on the wrists, elbows, knees, hands and feet.
If you suffer from eczema you know all too well how uncomfortable it can be. This condition is marked by red, swollen, itchy and very sore skin that can turn into scabs, cracks and bleed.
Eczema is not a life-threatening condition, but it can cause much discomfort. Severe itching can cause irritability and sleeplessness. The skin in the area is usually dry and rough, but the rashes may open up, ooze and form ugly crusts that often result in social ostracism. Opportunistic infections by bacteria and fungi can exacerbate the condition further.
While you may have been prescribed a topical cream for your eczema, these types of remedies often mask the problem and only take away the pain and itching temporarily. There is, however, one natural remedy that is loaded with healing properties that not only soothes acute redness and irritation, but also keeps infections at bay.
8 Reasons To Use Coconut Oil For Eczema
1. Coconut Oil Is Moisturizing
Eczema sufferers have to almost always deal with patches of dry skin, even when there is no perceptible rash. They are usually advised to use mineral oil or petroleum jelly-based moisturizers since water-based products are of no help. Petroleum products do nothing but prevent water loss from the skin by forming an inert barrier on the skin surface.
Coconut oil is an excellent skin moisturizer that does a lot more than just provide a barrier. It gets absorbed into the skin tissue, where it works as an emollient. It softens the dry, brittle skin characteristic of eczema, preventing skin breakouts that invite opportunistic bacteria. It improves the feel of rough, scaly skin and reduces irritation.
This tropical oil’s superiority over mineral oil has been tried and tested clinically, wherein children treated with coconut oil showed a significant reduction in eczema symptoms, compared to those treated with mineral oil. Another study proved that coconut oil is superior to olive oil when it comes to eczema management.
2. Coconut Oil Is Nourishing
Coconut oil is absorbed into the skin layers easily because of the fatty acids that make up the oil. All vegetable oils and animal fats are made up of smaller components called fatty acids, but what makes coconut oil special is that it mainly contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) or medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
Being much smaller than the long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) found in other oils, MCTs can permeate the cell membranes. They get metabolized easily without the involvement of digestive enzymes. When coconut oil is applied on the skin, its fatty acids are immediately employed to strengthen the connective tissue, making the skin elastic and supple.
3. Coconut Oil Relieves Itching
Itching associated with eczema is one of the most troubling aspects of this condition. It also makes way for skin breaks that invite infections. Besides removing the dryness and roughness of skin which makes itching worse, coconut oil relieves the itchiness itself. In fact, coconut oil is often used to relieve itching caused by insect bites and nettle stings.
Applying warmed coconut oil just before bedtime is the best way to get children with eczema to sleep peacefully. Also, it helps to apply a thin layer of oil on exposed eczema patches before venturing out of the house. This protective layer prevents dust and other environmental pollutants from coming into direct contact with the sensitive area and trigger itching.
4. Coconut Oil Has Anti-Bacterial Properties
Research has proven the potent antimicrobial effect of coconut oil, which has been experimentally documented time and again. Lauric acid, the fatty acid that forms the major bulk of coconut oil is responsible for this effect. Coconut oil is among the very few natural sources of lauric acid, another one being human breast milk. That itself is proof enough for coconut oil’s beneficial effect on human health.
Lauric acid is converted to monolaurin in the body, and this molecule has wide-ranging action against not only bacteria, but viruses, protozoa, and fungi. Coconut oil application is particularly effective against Staphylococcus aureus infection that very frequently complicates eczema.
5. Coconut Oil Has An Immuno-Modulating Effect
Corticosteroid and antihistamine creams are often prescribed to control severe itching and inflammation associated with eczema. When steroid treatments don’t seem to work, physicians may give calcineurin inhibitors for immune suppression. All these drugs act against the natural immunity of the body because allergic reactions are usually the result of an overactive immune system.
Many of these topical immuno-modulating drugs are known to have severe side effects. Some of them, like the Elidel used to treat eczema when other treatments fail, even carry ‘black box’ warning by FDA due to possible cancer risk. Coconut oil has been shown to have a similar immuno-modulating action. It comes without any risk too, since the oil has been in use for thousands of years without any known ill effects.
6. Coconut Oil Is Anti-Inflammatory
Coconut oil has a natural anti-inflammatory action that can come in handy while using it for eczema relief. Eczema-prone people develop skin inflammations from any number of conditions, from excess cold, to heat and sweating. Contact with rough surfaces, soaps and detergents, plastics and other chemicals also sets off inflammatory responses that may quickly progress into full-fledged flare ups. Timely application of coconut oil may arrest the progress.
Coconut oil can afford some protection against UV radiation and associated skin inflammation too, but its SPF4 may not be sufficient for full protection. Incidentally, eczema shows improvement with some amount of UV exposure, the associated cancer risk notwithstanding.
7. Coconut Oil Has An Excellent Safety Profile
Coconut oil is extracted from the immensely edible, dried kernel or meat of coconuts. This colorless, pleasant-smelling, light oil is, in fact, the main cooking oil in many tropical islands and coastal areas. It should be mentioned here that these people enjoy excellent health and longevity, according to statistics.
Coconut oil is natural and non-toxic. Since it is very stable—thanks to its high saturated fatty acid content—it does not need chemical additives to increase its shelf life.
Coconut is not a true tree nut, its name notwithstanding, so people with tree nut allergies need not be unduly worried. However, you should probably test the oil on a small area of the skin and watch for reactions before using it for the first time. But allergies to this oil are extremely rare.
Coconut oil is extremely gentle on the skin that it can be safely used on newborns and people with very sensitive skin. It is one of the best baby massage oils and is often used to wipe the baby bottoms clean of sticky meconium in the first few hours after birth. It soothes diaper rashes too.
8. Coconut Oil Is Easily Obtained And Economical
Coconut oil, with all its miraculous health benefits, is neither expensive nor is it rare. You should always strive to get the highest quality oil for skin care, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive brand. You can purchase coconut oil in bulk and store what you don’t need for later use to beat the price further. Coconut oil has good spread too, so a little goes a long way. Nutiva Coconut Oil is my favorite brand so far. You may like to pick up a jar to try it for yourself.
This article is shared with permission from our friends at naturallivingideas.com (in partnership with FamilyLifeGoals.com).