3 Ways to Use Turmeric for Eczema & Itching + Why it Works

Eczema refers to a medical condition characterized by inflammation and irritation of the skin. Atopic eczema and atopic dermatitis are the common forms of eczema.

It is often found in people who have a tendency to develop allergic reactions to certain compounds.

The condition generally improves in children as they age but in few, it continues for the rest of the life.

However, the condition can be kept under control by using certain natural remedies.

Use of turmeric for eczema and itching relieves symptoms easily without any side effects.

Majority of them say that it works better than the medicated lotions and creams.

Turmeric is one of the safe herbs used extensively in the treatment of skin disorders. Turmeric is a root of the plant Curcuma longa, a perennial plant that grows extensively in tropical regions of South Asia.

The active ingredient curcumin present in turmeric possesses anti-inflammatory and bactericidal property. It lowers the expression of enzymes responsible for inflammation in the body and treats inflammation of skin associated with eczema.

Please feel free to use the Table of Contents below to jump to the relevant section in the article.

Use of turmeric for Eczema and Itching

Turmeric can be used both internally and externally to treat eczema and itching. Here are a few ways to use turmeric for eczema and itching.

Using Turmeric Milk for eczema and itching

You can consume Turmeric milk or Golden Milk to relieve pain and inflammation in eczema. Turmeric has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Traditionally turmeric milk is used as a home remedy for boosting immunity. It is also a great way to detox your body.

Please check our recipe for Turmeric Milk here. You can consume 1-2 cups of turmeric milk per day.

Using Turmeric Paste for eczema and itching

For skin conditions like eczema, topical application of turmeric is best suited and may provide faster relief.

Before topical application, it is advised to do a patch test to check for any allergic reactions.

Take a sufficient amount of turmeric powder and mix it with oil, preferably coconut/olive oil and apply to the affected area. Leave it for around 30 minutes and wash the area with cool water. This can be repeated 2-3 times a day. Read: Topical turmeric for Inflammation

Taking Turmeric orally for eczema and itching

In case of repeated episodes of eczema or for severe conditions, including turmeric as an anti-inflammatory food in your diet can be of great help.

Golden paste is an excellent way to incorporate turmeric in your diet. It combines turmeric with black pepper and healthy fats which enhance absorption. Find the recipe for the golden paste made from turmeric powder here. Here is the recipe to make the paste from fresh turmeric roots.

The ideal dosage of turmeric differs with every individual.

Initially, start with small doses of ¼ to ½ tsp turmeric per day for a week. If you do not observe any gastric discomfort, the dose can be gradually increased ¼ to ½ tsp a week. The suggested dose of Golden Paste is 1 tsp 2-3 times a day.

If you plan to take turmeric supplements, please consult your health practitioner about the same. Supplements should not be taken on an empty stomach and close to the time of taking other medicines. 

You can check our post on Best Turmeric/Curcumin Supplement Brands for more details.

How does turmeric help with eczema and skin irritation?

A lot of research has been done with regards to the 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 a 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 an 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.

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

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

Plaque psoriasis is a condition characterized by reddening and scaling of the 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 is also being investigated for the 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 the activity of inflammatory chemicals and immune cells.

It is 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 an 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 an 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 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 a significant reduction in radiation dermatitis compared to placebo and fewer patients in the curcumin group experienced peeling off of the 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.

Precautions

Turmeric in diet is absolutely safe. Turmeric supplements should be taken with care. (Read Side effects of Turmeric)

If you are taking blood thinners, turmeric supplements should be avoided. Turmeric can be included in diet in small doses. If suffering from a bleeding disorder consult a doctor and herbalist or naturopath before taking turmeric. (Read Is turmeric a Blood Thinner? Will it increase Bleeding Risk?)

Turmeric supplements should be avoided in case of pregnancy and lactation. Discontinue use of turmeric supplements 2 weeks prior to surgery.

Turmeric supplements should be avoided in case of gall bladder obstructions. (Should you take turmeric if you have gallstones?)

Turmeric may interact with certain medications like stomach acid reducing drugs, diabetes medications, blood thinners. Avoid taking turmeric supplements at the same time as medicines.

If suffering from gout or kidney stones, limit intake of turmeric as a spice. (Read Does turmeric cause kidney stones? Is turmeric safe in gout?)

Consult a health practitioner before taking turmeric supplements.

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.

If harrowed by turmeric stains here is how you can take care of them.

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

Conclusion

Turmeric has been used traditionally for treating various skin conditions including eczema. Many research studies have also pointed out the possible therapeutic action of turmeric and curcumin in eczema.

If you have used turmeric for treating eczema, please share your experience in the comments section below.

 
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