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Top 10 Home Remedies for Eczema, Dermatitis And Itchy Skin. Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Photo © AdobeStock 42959221 (under license)
You’ve been scratching the same spot for almost an hour but the itch just becomes stronger than before. You scratch harder and faster until your nails become tainted with your own blood. This may sound like a scene from a horror movie, but it’s just a glimpse of a typical day for people suffering from eczema, also known as dermatitis. Victimizing over 30 million Americans, eczema is a general term used to describe inflammation of the skin that leads to itchiness and discoloration. 
Moisturizers or emollients are considered by dermatologists as the first line in treating eczema. People with eczema often have very dry skin because of their skin’s inability to retain enough moisture. Without enough moisture, the gaps between skin cells are wide enough to be inhabited by bacteria and allergens. As a response, the immune system causes inflammation and inflammation causes itchiness. It may provide temporary relief but scratching actually makes it worse by decreasing the barrier function of the skin and causing further inflammation.
The good news is, eczema may be manageable and inexpensive, soothing home remedies can be found right in your very own kitchen.
1. Coconut and Virgin Olive Oils:
These oils not only moisturize the skin but also prevent irritation. The skin needs fats and oils to retain water, but if your skin isn’t producing enough of those to moisturize it, gaps between cells widen and bacteria and irritants can enter easily. Coconut and virgin olive oils easily sink into the skin and fill in the intercellular gap that’s opened up and caused you dryness and susceptibility to irritants. 
How to apply:
Make sure your hands are clean and dry before rubbing the oil onto the affected areas. Let it dry on your skin. It is generally considered safe to apply throughout the day if needed.
2. Jojoba Oil:
Technically, it’s not an oil but a liquid wax extracted from its seeds. Since eczema differs from one person to another, what’s effective for others may not work as well for you, so it’s important to know as many options as possible. If coconut and virgin oils do not suit you, go with jojoba. It also easily sinks into the skin plus its molecular structure is the most similar to that of our skin’s natural oil. It is well-known for its anti-inflammation, barrier function, skin hydration benefits, as well as accelerating the recovery of the damaged skin barrier. 
How to apply:
Like applying coconut and virgin olive oils, make sure your hands are clean and patted dry before applying it onto the affected areas. You can massage your skin gently until the oil is at least partially absorbed.
Since ancient Rome, oatmeal has been used for skin care treatment. Over the years, studies have confirmed its anti-inflammatory, barrier repair, and moisturizing properties.  It has active skin-healing compounds like water-binding polysaccharides, hydrocolloids, and fats that hold moisture against the skin and relieve itchiness. Furthermore, it helps protect the skin from sun damage and inflammation of various skin conditions.  Easy to acquire and use, oatmeal is probably the best starting point in treating eczema.
How to apply:
To get the best skin-healing benefits of oats, you could try making your own colloidal (super fine powdered) oatmeal. Use a food processor, blender, or coffee grinder and then blend the oats or process dry until they become fine powder. Add it to a glass of water and mix well until it turns into a milky white liquid. You can add it to bathwater or apply topically to affected areas.
Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs with various health benefits. Other than calming the nerves and relaxing muscle tensions, chamomile also treats skin conditions. Used in a cream or ointment, studies have found that it relieves eczema symptoms and other skin irritations. In fact, some studies have documented it as effective as hydrocortisone cream for eczema. The calming effect of chamomile also plays its part in relieving itchiness, as eczema is also triggered by stress. 
How to apply:
Using 4 or more tablespoons of dried chamomile flower, preferably German chamomile, make a tea bag using muslin or cheesecloth and tie it off. After filling the tub part way, tie the bag to the faucet so the water runs through it. Drop the bag in the tub when the tub is full. Soak for 10-15 minutes and squeeze the bag every now and then. After the bath, pat your skin gently with a soft towel.
5. Fish oil:
Essential fatty acids found in fish oil are truly essential in relieving eczema symptoms.  In one study, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil showed effectiveness in significantly reducing eczema symptoms after 12 weeks. It may be that fish oils help reduce the inflammatory substance leukotriene B4.  Those who take supplements recorded an average of 18% reduction in their symptoms. Official advice recommends people to eat two portions of fish per week, one of which should be an oily fish.
6. Yogurt with Live Culture:
Some of you may be surprised how yogurt with live cultures end up on this list. Is there a link between the skin and the tummy? The answer is a big YES. We need probiotics or the “good” bacteria to help our intestines protect us from toxins and bad bacteria. If, however, the intestines are covered with yeasts and bad bacteria, the immune system responds through inflammation. It’s the least thing you want if you have eczema.
By affecting inflammation and strengthening the immune system in the intestinal tract, probiotics, or the good bacteria, keep the body from overreacting to allergens.  When exposed to allergens – substances that cause allergic reactions – many people with eczema experience flare-ups or worsening of symptoms like extreme itchiness. Some research shows that a certain probiotic called “fight eczema” raise levels of allergy-calming chemicals in the blood. 
7. Oolong Tea:
Made from leaves, buds, and stems of the Camellia Sinensis plant, oolong tea is a partially fermented tea with a myriad of benefits. Recently, a study in Japan reported moderate improvements in eczema symptoms after just a week or two of drinking oolong tea.  Its effect is attributed to its anti-allergy activity of the polyphenol compounds and unique flavonoids that are anti-oxidants.  Like yogurt, it also boosts the immune system thereby preventing inflammatory response which may worsen the symptoms.
Rich in fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants, this fruit is the skin’s best friend. Avocado binds skin cells together and aids in the production of elastin and collagen.  This will make your skin more elastic and compact which will help in the treatment of eczema. You can use avocado oil topically for faster result.
9. Eat Foods Rich In Vitamin E:
For healthy skin and strong immunity, eat foods rich in Vitamin E. Almonds, raw seeds, spinach, turnip greens, plant oils, and hazelnuts contain this amazing vitamin known as an antioxidant that protect cells from damage.  To better manage eczema, you need strong immunity and a healthy skin to lessen inflammation and infection.
10. Explore Different Soaps And Detergents And Removal Of Allergens:
You may wish to consider avoiding detergents and ordinary soaps as they are known to remove the natural oils in your skin, potentially making you itch more.  Many of these products also contain “fragrance” – which if not otherwise stated is most likely to be synthetic, being derived from petrochemicals. The actual substances are typically not listed – however, there are some brands that use more gentle ingredients and are fragrance-free.
With the right food, natural oils, and proper habits, you can be in control of your eczema. As mentioned earlier, you must find which works the best for you, as eczema is highly individualistic. The most important thing to remember is to keep your skin moisturized and your immune system on top shape. Eczema may be officially incurable at the moment but nature provides amazing remedies, which if used properly and knowledgeably maybe provide great benefit.
 Graedon, Joe and Graedon, Theresa. Best Choices from the People’s Pharmacy: What You Need to Know Before Your Next Visit to the Doctor of Drugstore. New York: 2006
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