There are a bunch of old wives tales about how to treat eczema and they’re pretty much hit or miss. Same thing goes for prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. I’ve had eczema for as long as I can remember and I’ve tried a bunch of different things. Some work some of the time, but unfortunately there isn’t a cure-all that works all of the time. Here’s my experience with eczema and treatments that I’ve tried.
When I was little, the only known treatments were a prescription ointment that had hydrocortisone in it, and oatmeal baths and soaps. Now leading experts say to use hydrocortisone sparingly, because it thins the skin and damages the cells long term. It’s a mystery that more of us kids didn’t go blind, because they’ve also just found out recently that you shouldn’t put in on your eyelids or under your eyes (because it gives you cataracts).
So what do you do if you have uncontrollable eczema? First, try to figure out your triggers. For some people, the trigger is fragrance, for some it’s allergies, for others it’s stress, and the list can go on and on. I know one of mine is alpha hydroxy. I can use it in small doses, but too much and here comes the eczema. If you can lower or eliminate your exposure to your triggers, your skin will love you for it. But sometimes it’s impossible to lower your exposure, like if your trigger is outdoor allergies.
Next, the obvious one, try to find something that will control the itch. Most people use hydrocortisone or something similar, and another option is salicylic acid. A botanical idea I got from the Personal Care Truth blog is Rooibos tea extract. It’s an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, so it’s supposed to help both soothe and heal skin irritations. And another one that I’ve found recently that works well is Green Tea extract.
Last but not least, find something that will hydrate and hopefully eventually help the eczema heal. I’ve used everything from hydrocortisone to Elidel with similar results, not very good. The only things that I’ve tried so far that work “most” of the time are botanical products with antioxidants in them (like green tea extract, tea tree oil and peppermint oil), A & D ointment, and exposure to sunlight. I’m not saying to go out and burn yourself, but sometimes 5 minutes in the sun will help quicken the healing process. A recent study showed that people with eczema may be lacking in either Vitamin D or cathelicidin, an enzyme in the skin. Some dermatologists even treat with a medical-grade ultraviolet light. I just can’t see paying for what’s usually free, so I put sunblock all over except for the small spot that I need to treat and go lay out in the sun for a few minutes. If you’re using Elidel or Protopic, skip this step since those products can make you very susceptible to sunburn.
For spots that are not on my head or face, I soak in BC’s Spa Bath Minerals, and then slather myself with the Ultra-Rich Moisturizer. It has antioxidants and shea butter. Then I use Tea Tree Oil and put A & D ointment over it as a spot treatment, and on my eyelids and scalp if I need it. If you try this, be careful not to put too much on your eyelids so it doesn’t run down in your eyes. BC’s Warming Trend Green Tea Masque also helps immensely to soothe the itch and helps heal the patches if they’re in the early stages.
Thankfully, I’ve gotten mine under control and I only have a couple of active spots that are on their way to healing. Hopefully, I’ve given you some ideas to help you be eczema free as well!
Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m always here to help!