Skin redness and itchiness…not once or twice, instead chronic (long-lasting) and flares up regularly. This is something I would never wish on anyone.
Atopic dermatitis, or more commonly known as eczema, is a skin condition that manifests through redness and itchiness. It is very common in children, but unfortunately, can still happen to anyone regardless of age. However, seeing as it is more common in children, eczema has been one of the most common things parents fight or protect their children from. Children, especially toddlers, have “no control” over their hands, and can scratch mindlessly and furiously - that may lead to wounding and cause further discomfort and scarring. One can only hope it gets better over time, but sadly, it is often a long-lasting disease.
As awful as eczema is, we should know that it is not contagious. I repeat, it is not contagious. Although the cause is not definitely known, it is likely both genetic and environmental factors. Eczema can be brought about by smoke and pollen. There are also food like nuts and dairy, so it is best to steer clear of these triggers.
Today, I want to focus on how we can use coconut oil to address eczema. More on that later.
Eczema usually manifests through the following signs and symptoms:
- Dry skin
- Itchiness - This can be very severe, especially at night
- Patches coloring from red to brownish-gray - These may appear on the hands, feet and, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees; in infants (which makes it worse than it already is), it can occur on the face and scalp.
- Small, raised bumps - These may release fluid and crust when scratched.
- Thickened, cracked, and scaly skin
- Due to scratching, the skin may feel raw, sensitive, and may swell.
Eczema is a serious problem because it often begins before age 5 and may continue into adolescence and adulthood. It can be misleading as it clears up for as long as several years; and then all of a sudden, you can suddenly just flare up.
What makes eczema more aggravating is that no cure has been found for it. However, I have personally attested, through my little sister, who has been plagued by eczema for as long as I could remember, that there are ways to relieve the itching and intercept new outbreaks.
Ways to Treat or Prevent Eczema
It is important to know that there is no cure for eczema. These tips we provide you focus more on healing damaged skin and alleviating the discomfort caused by eczema.
1. Take a bath - This is the quickest way to get rid of the itch however temporary it may be. Take a warm bath (bathing in hot water strips your skin of moisture) for 10 to 15 minutes. Too much contact with water can actually cause irritation, especially if you do not moisturize immediately after bathing. Use mild soaps or non-soap cleansers when washing. Also, instead of rubbing the skin dry, try air drying or gently patting the skin dry.
2. Moisturize - A common manifestation of eczema is dry skin. Therefore, moisturizing is the second most important way to prevent and treat eczema. After bathing, it is imperative to moisturize within three minutes to lock in the moisture.
3. Watch what you wear - Stick to cotton and soft fabrics because these materials let your skin breathe. Take a sidestep from rough, scratchy, and tight-fitting clothes as they will make you itchier.
4. Shun triggers - Know what triggers your eczema; be it food or environment, to prevent eczema means to completely shirk the causes.
5. Keep your fingernails short - Whenever my sister’s eczema flares up, scratching is the most instant relief she resorts to. We make sure she always has short fingernails so she doesn’t “break” her skin. Scratching will surely cause scarring (I’ve recently taught her how to scratch with her fingertips, but there’s no need to talk about that ‘cause my mother would kill me).
While having dinner, I noticed that my sister’s neck is much lighter. This is usually where she gets the eczema patches, and therefore, her favorite part to scratch. Over the years of suffering from eczema, it has, sadly, scarred. But the other day, I noticed it was much lighter. I asked my mother what she’s been doing with my sister’s neck and she only had two words for me: coconut oil.
Use Coconut Oil for Eczema
Before we proceed, I have to warn you that coconut oil is NOT for everyone. If you have sensitivities towards salicylates, chemicals found in plants and naturally found in many fruits and vegetables, it may be safer for you to stick to over-the-counter ointments prescribed by your doctor.
Coconut oil is a fantastic moisturizer. Rich with MCTs or medium-chain triglycerides, it is easily absorbed by the skin and penetrates the cell membranes. When coconut oil is applied on the skin, the fatty acids immediately get to work, strengthening the connecting tissue, effectively making the skin elastic and supple. It automatically relieves the dry skin.
Coconut oil is a better “scratcher.” Apart from addressing the skin dryness, coconut oil has soothing action. In fact, upon doing research on coconut oil, it is often used to relieve itching due to insect bites. It’s also been known that applying a thin layer of warmed coconut oil before bedtime contributes to comfortable and peaceful sleep for children with eczema. This protective layer blocks the dust and other environmental eczema triggers.
Coconut oil has an impressive amount of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Let’s face it - you cannot stop kids from scratching. I mean, I’m not a kid and anything that itches must and will be scratched. Staphylococcus aureus is a kind of infection that complicates eczema frequently. Coconut oil is loaded with lauric acid that is converted to monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin has a far-reaching action against bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi.
Eczema -affected people develop skin inflammations from any and numerous conditions; from the excess cold to heat and sweating, even rough surfaces, and soaps, these things can cause inflammation. If we apply coconut oil right on time, inflammation may halt the progress.
Ways to Use Coconut Oil for Eczema
- Application - This is how my mother did it with my sister. She bought organic extra virgin coconut oil and applied it to the parts affected by eczema. In my sister’s case, her neck. My mother applied it twice a day; once after my sister bathes, and once before she sleeps. You can apply it as often as you can, depending if you find it comfortable.
- Eat or Drink It Up - The good thing about coconut oil is, it is safe to ingest. But I have to be honest with you, I would never do this in a million years. Just no. you can also use it as a salad dressing, although I still wouldn’t.
The good news, though, is there are coconut oil supplements readily available in the market like Nutra Botanic’s Organic Coconut Oil Softgels. There is no need for you to subject your mouth to unnecessary oral oiliness. Eeeeep! So go save yourself the trouble!