Natural Alternatives for Treating Eczema

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Photo Courtesy Alpha Books
"Treatment Alternatives for Children" offers side-by-side comparisons between conventional and alternative treatment options for nearly 100 common childhood illnesses.

 In Treatment Alternatives for Children (Alpha Books, 2012), Lawrence Rosen, MD, and Jeff Cohen provide holistic alternatives to traditional medical treatments for nearly 100 common childhood illnesses, from allergies and asthma to sinusitis and sore throats. This excerpt on natural alternatives for treating eczema comes from chapter 9, Dermatological Dilemmas.

How many words can you think of that start with the letters ecz? If you only thought of one, you’re ready for the spelling bee. You’re also ready to learn about eczema.

A skin condition that mainly affects babies and toddlers, eczema can cause itchiness and raised, bumpy, scaly rashes on the skin. Common symptoms include visible irritation and inflammation of the skin, dry or scaly skin, oozing blisters, and red patches. These irritations are typically seen on the face, neck, hands, and feet.

While eczema may be hereditary, it can also be caused by a number of environmental factors. These include exposure to extreme temperatures, allergies, unusual fabrics, perfumes and dyes, or exposure to topical irritants.

If you’re done trying to spell eczema and are ready to learn the remedy choices available, keep reading for a side-by-side comparison of hydrocortisone and licorice gel.

Eczema Side-by-Side Comparison

  Conventional Remedy Treatment Alternative
Generic Treatment Hydrocortisone Licorice gel
Sample Brand Name Cortaid 1%  Atopiclair
How it works Cortaid is an anti-inflammatory steroid applied topically that helps relieve redness, irritation, itching, inflammation, and rashes on a temporary basis. Atopiclair provides necessary moisture and soothes the skin while also helping to prevent future eczema outbreaks. It is nonsteroidal.
Dosage Apply to skin 1-4 times per day to the affected area after cleaning it. Use just enough to cover the affected area. Do not use on children prior to consulting a doctor.  Children ages 6 mo. and older: apply 2-3 times per day or as needed on the affected area. Consult a doctor before use. 
Active Ingredients Hydrocortisone  Glycyrrhetinic acid, hyaluronic acid 
Common Mild Side Effects Burning sensation, itching, peeling of the skin, redness, dryness, changes in skin tone, cracked skin, blisters  Mild burning, stinging, redness 
Less Common Serious Side Effects Allergic reaction, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, blurred vision, skin infection, unexplained weight gain, insomnia  Allergic reaction 

Science Says

Researchers at the Department of Pharmaceutics at Mazandaran University in Iran studied the treatment of atopic dermatitis (eczema) with licorice gel. Two licorice gel formulations (1 and 2 percent) were studied in double-blind clinical trials with 60 patients. The 2 percent solution seemed most effective in reducing itching over a period of two weeks, although both preparations were effective in treating atopic dermatitis.

Natural Selection

Primrose oil can help reduce inflammation, itching, and redness associated with eczema. Chamomile or calendula cream can also reduce inflammation when used topically as an eczema treatment. Aloe vera or grapefruit seed extract can also provide similar soothing relief. Finally, eczema outbreaks can be reduced and outbreak recoveries sped up through probiotics to support a healthy immune system.

This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Treatment Alternatives for Children by Lawrence Rosen, MD, and Jeff Cohen, published by Alpha Books, 2012.

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