5 Ways Turmeric Can Soothe Eczema And Itching

Eczema or dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. Generally it is a symptom of some underlying condition.

It is characterised by redness, scaling, crusting, swelling and itching of skin. It can occur as a result of infection, allergic reaction, and inappropriate immune responses or even due to non-specific reasons.

Treatment includes steroids, immunosuppressants and topical creams. One can expect limited relief with these but there are chances of side effects. Despite of the fact that eczema can be managed and not cured, we can venture into alternative medicine with regular treatment as there is no harm as such.

This article will help you understand how turmeric can help in treating and managing eczema.

How does turmeric help with eczema and skin irritation?

A lot of research has been done with regards to use of turmeric in treating skin related disorders. No study as such which focuses on turmeric’s effect on reducing itching but eczema is a symptom of almost all skin conditions and turmeric has a number of pharmacological properties to reduce it.

Turmeric is a herb, spice or now one of the best nutraceuticals. This is due to its bioactive component, curcumin. Turmeric oil also has therapeutic property.

1. Turmeric aids in treating skin diseases

Earlier one of the primary uses of turmeric was to treat the skin as a cosmetic or medication. There are several reasons  why it was used for this purpose:

  • It reduces skin infection.
  • It reduces inflammation.
  • It combats skin infection.
  • It reduces dyspigmentation.
  • It protects skin from pollutants and chemicals.
  • It has anti-allergic activity.

One of the best properties of turmeric with reference to dermatology, is its skin regenerating potential. As an antioxidant it prevents damage caused by the reactive oxygen species and it downregulates the activity of the vital proteins behind the inflammation.

eczemaimage1By altering the various biochemical processes it speeds up wound healing and renews skin layers.

UCLA researchers state that curcumin gel rapidly heals burns or photo damaged skin with little or no side effects.

Plaque psoriasis is a condition characterised by reddening and scaling of skin. Turmeric gel is found to be efficient in reducing the inflammation causing psoriasis without causing side effects and it is recommended as an add-on to conventional therapy.  (Read Turmeric for psoriasis)

Formulations containing turmeric have been found to be helpful in reducing itching and other symptoms in eczema patients.  Topical application of nanocurcumin formulations are also being investigated for treatment of skin disorders.

What does this mean?
Turmeric, as well as curcumin, have multiple modes of acting against skin diseases and clinical studies have investigated its role in treating scleroderma, psoriasis etc.Topical formulations of curcumin are being devised to help in treatment of skin inflammation.

2. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory agent

Most of you who have read our previous articles, will find this one as a common point mentioned with respect to most health conditions. So curcumin is a strong anti-inflammatory agent and it does so by downregulating activity of inflammatory chemicals and immune cells.

Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity is comparable to that of regular painkillers and steroids. (Read Why Turmeric Beats Many Steroidal Medications Hands Down)

Researchers at Rutgers University studied the effect of curcumin on inhibiting experimental conditions for tumor formation on the skin. An interesting finding reported in this study was that topical application of curcumin inhibited the activity of enzymes involved in inflammation of the skin.

End stage kidney disease patients suffer a number of complications one of them being uremic pruritis. This is sort of a rash which develops on the skin and can be acute or chronic. Treatment with turmeric in such patients is found to reduce such irritation and reduce inflammatory biomarkers responsible for this condition.

Curcumin (1g per day) is found to reduce chemical exposure induced skin irritation by virtue of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.

What does this mean?
Eczema is skin inflammation and curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. It helps in controlling itching and rashes even if the cause of inflammation is due to some other health condition or chemical exposure.

3. It has anti-allergen activity

eczemaimage2Mast cells are a type of immune cells that are involved in allergic or hypersensitivity response. When an allergen or foreign body attaches to our antibodies, these mast cells are activated and in order to fight this allergen the mast cells release inflammatory chemicals. One such chemical is histamine which mediates allergic response.

An animal study  was conducted where the effect of curcumin on such an allergic reaction in the skin was assessed. Curcumin significantly reduced mast cell activation and histamine release thereby demonstrating anti-allergic activity.

Lee et al have also confirmed this activity and found it to be useful in treating atopic dermatitis and allergic conditions.
C.aromatica, a related species of turmeric (C.longa) is proven to have anti-allergic effect.  Curcumin, among the curcuminoids, is the most potent in reducing allergic activity and reduces scratching and itching that occurs in such cases.

However a few researchers have noted down cases where curcumin itself has resulted in allergic reaction.

What does this mean?
Turmeric helps in reducing allergic responses which could cause skin rashes.

4. It has anti-microbial activity

Turmeric has broad spectrum anti-microbial property.  This could be of use in curbing any infection that is causing the eczema or skin rash.

Turmeric creams containing turmeric oil have anti-fungal activity as strong as that of ketoconazole, a common anti-fungal medication.

What does this mean?
Bacterial and fungal infections can cause eczema. Turmeric powder and oil have excellent anti-microbial activity.

5. It can help with cancer related dermatitis

Radiation dermatitis or radiation induced skin inflammation is a common side effect of radiotherapy. A study  was conducted wherein breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy were given curcumin to reduce the severity of radiation dermatitis.

They were given either 2g of curcumin thrice a day or placebo throughout their course of radiotherapy. At the end of the treatment, curcumin showed significant reduction in radiation dermatitis compared to placebo and fewer patients in the curcumin group experienced peeling off of upper layer of skin.

A cream containing turmeric and sandalwood oil is found to significantly reduce radiodermatitis within 7 weeks of treatment.

Kuttan et al reported that alcoholic extract of turmeric or curcumin ointment when applied topically reduced itching in almost all cases of skin cancer.  Lesion size and pain was reduced in patients and these therapeutic effects lasted for over several months.

What does this mean?
Curcumin therapy is proven to be effective in treating radiotherapy induced skin inflammation and also helpful as an add-on therapy in skin cancer.

Dosage & Use

Turmeric is a spice and flavouring agent, so one easy way is to include it in your diet. But for a more therapeutic effect, 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder with a pinch of black pepper and some fat (cooking oil) should help.

Some don’t like its taste which is why I would suggest Turmeric Milk or Golden Paste.

If opting for supplements, the dosage is about 400-600mg thrice a day of standardized curcumin. Preferably taken with meals, as the fats help in absorption of curcumin. For more details on the dosage read Ideal Turmeric Dosage.

Turmeric based creams are also available which could be applied topically for relief. A paste of ground turmeric roots and neem paste can be applied to lesions and rashes. Ayurveda supports the efficacy of this duo in treating skin conditions.

For practical applications of turmeric in relation to eczema read Turmeric For Eczema And Itching.

Precautions

Turmeric in food is safe but either in case of supplements or dietary turmeric you might face initial gastric discomfort if you have never tried it previously.

It is advisable to consult a doctor before taking curcumin supplements to avoid chances of allergic reactions or drug interactions. Also supplements are not advisable on long term.

A few conditions in which turmeric supplements should be avoided are:

  • Pregnancy and lactation
  • Prior to surgery
  • Anti-diabetic medications
  • If suffering from gall bladder problems
  • Stomach acid reducing medications and blood thinning agents

Cases of turmeric topical application allergy have also been reported.  It could happen that the turmeric powder you are using has additives. You might want to do a patch test in that case.

In case you would like some help with finding good brands, you can have a look at this.

Conclusion

Turmeric’s therapeutic efficacy in eczema and related skin conditions is well proven by research. I haven’t used turmeric for skin as such except for turmeric based plasters and the wound healing rate was exceptional.

But I have heard a couple of testimonials from friends with respect to turmeric for skin and they are pretty promising.

In case you have tried, please do share your experience for everyone’s benefit.

About the Author

TurmericForHealthTeam

Turmeric for Health's writer team consists of passionate writers from the fields of biotechnology, pharmacy, nutrition, Ayurveda & microbiology.Our writers are highly qualified with many having Ph.D., M.Tech & MSc degrees while others having B.Tech, BSc, B.Pharm. Our differentiation lies in researching and presenting ONLY FACTUAL SCIENTIFIC information. We spend 10s of hours to write a single article. Info of our articles is sourced from reliable scientific sources which are also provided as a link alongside for readers to refer if they want. You can read more about our team in the " About us" section.

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12 Comments

  1. Hey, so i have excema and i heard about tumeric helping with inflammation and alot of skin conditions but my question is i also have it on my face and does drinking ginger tumeric tea will help with all the problems of my skin? And is it okay to drinking every other day?

    1. Hi. Drinking turmeric tea should help in skin disorders. You could also consider taking Golden Paste. Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose gradually to 1 tsp 2-3 times a day over a few weeks. Best taken with food to avoid acid reflux. Avoid taking it at the same time when you take meds. http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-turmeric-paste-or-golden-paste
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-golden-paste-from-raw-fresh-turmeric

      Topical application of turmeric on the affected regions may also help. You can mix organic turmeric powder with coconut/olive oil and apply it topically. Leave it on for 20-30 minutes and wash with cool water. You can practice this 2-3 times a day. Please conduct a patch test prior.

  2. I have had a fungal rash for about eight years now and it would not go away completely. Started taking Tumeric supplement with the ingredient that helps the body absorb it and my rash has gone. Tried everything in the past! So pleased.

  3. I just opened a capsule of tumeric and applied the powder directly to my itchy, weeping spot on my forehead eyebrow and finger. IMMEDIATELY STOPPED ITCHING AND WEEPING! I have been suffering for weeks, tried every home remedy I could find, but this was immediate I hope it helps for long term.

  4. I strated taking tumeric milk for last 10 days. I am also para diabetic and taking tablet daily. Today only i noticed that this should be avoided for anti diabetic medication. So should I stop the milk or the tablets?

    1. Dietary turmeric would not interfere with your medications. In fact it will benefit you. Don’t discontinue medications without doctor’s advice.

    1. I would very much like to know this too, how much Tumeric paste orally for skin condition. I notice there isn’t a lot of replying to the questions asked here, why is that?

    2. Yes you can do that. However if you are taking turmeric for the first time start with small doses say 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.