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

  • Mix about ½ tsp of turmeric in milk and have it to treat bacterial infections responsible for redness and itching.
  • Add ½ tsp of turmeric to boiling water and let it simmer for about ten minutes. This solution can be taken directly or can be used to wash the affected area. The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory action of curcumin helps in relieving the itching and the rashes.

Using Turmeric Paste for eczema and itching

Make a paste using 1 Tbs of grounded neem leaves paste and 1Tbs of turmeric powder. Apply this paste at the affected portion.

The antibacterial action of both turmeric and neem leaves relieves rashes.

Making Turmeric Oil for eczema and itching

Prepare turmeric oil like this: Take 250 gms of any bitter oil, ~300 gms juice of durva grass (also known as Cynodon dactylon, Bermuda grass, bermudagrass, dubo, dog’s tooth grass, Bahama grass, devil’s grass, couch grass, etc.), 125 gms of turmeric ground down with water.

Cook them in an iron vessel and then cool. The oil then is strained using a piece of cloth. This oil should be applied on both wet and dry affections. The process has to be applied for at least 5 days.

Precautions while applying on wet affections:

  • Clean them and pus using neem water (it is basically an antiseptic) and then dry the surface with a clean cotton cloth. Apply the oil by using a clean cotton cloth.
  • The turmeric face mask made of ½ cup chickpea flour, 1 tsp of turmeric powder, 1tsp of sandalwood powder and almond oil gives blemish free beautiful skin. Apply the paste on the face and do gentle massage. Rinse off with water after five to ten minutes to enjoy scar free glowing skin.

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.

Forms of turmeric available in the market

There are several forms of turmeric available in the market:

  • Powder.
  • Tincture.
  • Fluid extract.

Turmeric root can also be purchased directly from the store and can be ground into powder or a fluid extract can be made. Most of the turmeric products available in the stores contain bromelain that promotes absorption of curcumin. It also boosts the anti-inflammatory action of curcumin.

I generally do not recommend supplements unless there is no other way. Using turmeric as a spice as part of the diet is the best way to get its benefits.

I have explained the dosage of various forms of turmeric in this article in detail.

If you include turmeric as a spice/powder do add black pepper in your diet too. As turmeric has low absorption otherwise.

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 the 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 the 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.

Read This Next

About the Author

Shruti (BE Biotech. & PGD Clinical Research)

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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59 Comments

  1. I used a tumeric paste last night on a badly staf infected area on my arm…. wow the staff has gone and my arm feels soft and healed… lots better to yesterday! Will be trying again

  2. Hi My three month baby is suffering from eczema on his face and sometimes it’s oozy. Can I use Neem and turmeric on the face ? I am concerned that the skin is delicate.

    1. Hi. We are not sure about neem ( neem oil specifically) but traditionally in India turmeric powder is mixed with dairy cream (‘malai’ in Hindi) and used topically for babies. Do not use any topical application without a patch test. However, it is best to consult a doctor about this.

  3. Thank you for the article. I developed atopic eczema flares on my neck and do not want to use topical medications. I have used turmeric before for my a dry problem I had on my face because it was recommended by my doctor. I mixed turmeric powder and 100% plain greek yogurt spreading it on my face as a mask. It has helped moisturize my skin deeply and after a day my dry outbreaks were treated.

  4. And what lot of people don’t knowing is that milk or related milkproducts also yoghurt is nog good if you eczema of psoriasis .
    So if you use milk or yoghurt try to stop des months and see whats happens.

  5. So glad to have found this page!
    Question — does the cooking / heating in water or oil “activate” turmeric somehow?
    I am asking specifically with regards to making a topical paste. Also, curious — is it safe to use one part coconut oil, one part tea tree oil for the mixture?

    1. Hi. Research proves that heating turmeric in water enhances its solubility in water but we aren’t really sure if it activates it any sense. You can read more about it here:
      https://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-queries/do-you-need-to-cook-turmeric-to-get-health-benefits
      Even if you do plan to make a topical paste by heating turmeric in water, please allow it to cool before applying and add the oils after removing it from heat and cooling it.

    1. Hi. No safety parameters have been established regarding taking curcumin supplements during lactation. Turmeric can still be included in diet.

    2. Hello, i have an auto immune disease and I took turmeric during pregnancy and nursing. My baby is very healthy. My midwife said it was fine and wouldn’t hurt the fetus or my baby during nursing

  6. I have very sensitive allergic skin and the Made from Earth Pure Aloe Treatment is in my opinion excellent it is not greasy and soothes the skin initially taking away the itch, a little goes a long way and worth paying a bit extra for a cream that works. This is also steroid free so you can use on the face and on a daily basis.

  7. Black pepper is an irritant. The best pepper to use is cayenne pepper only a small amount
    Is needed. Cayenne pepper can also halt in progress heart attack. Take straight on tongue. Will burn but not cause break down of tissue like black pepper.

    1. Black pepper if taken with meals does not irritate gastric lining. Also black pepper has a compound called piperine which ensures better absorption of turmeric and this is not present in cayenne pepper. Therefore it is advised to take turmeric with black pepper.

  8. I was so sick of itchy skin that I would try anything but I now use the Aloe & Jojoba Therapy from Made From Earth. It has calmed my itchy skin it has a nice smell not over powering.

  9. My younger son was suffering from eczema for a long time, I tried everything, Vaseline to coconut oil to all kind of cream,wasting a lot of money. as Indian families we use turmeric for a lot of our dishes, and in past i have heard of the benefits of turmeric, for kids their extreme dryness or too much moisture cause them to itch, for now overnight i use water and turmeric and make it paste and massage it in the fore arm where my kids eczema and i tie it with a dry cloth, just because turmeric has a strong yellow color and it can mess up the bed. some time if the skin is very dry, i mix turmeric with cold pressed coconut oil. important thing is coconut oil has its own healing power its only good if it cold pressed , when i was kid whenever we had an open wound my mom used to rub little coconut oil in the skin, miraculously next day the wound would heal – it had an antibacterial protection as well. try these it might help.

      1. Yes it is safe to give raw turmeric juice to a 5 year old child say about 10-15 ml. You can mix this with a homemade fruit juice to make it palatable. A better and safer way of giving turmeric to a child is turmeric milk.
        https://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/benefits-of-turmeric-milk
        You can also apply organic turmeric powder with extra virgin coconut/olive oil on the affected skin but conduct a patch test prior. Leave it on for 30 minutes and wash with cool water. Repeat 2-3 times a day.

  10. I have develeoped adult onset eczema on my arms and hands. I mix tumeric with water to make a paste. I apply this paste to the areas and the itching is gone. It’s like a miracle. really. An older sister passed away a few years ago and was plagued HORRIBLY by eczema; I wish I could have shared this remedy with her.

    1. Yes topical turmeric application benefits in eczema. You can also make this paste in coconut/olive oil since these oils are good for the skin. Conduct a patch test prior.

  11. I had eczema 5years back. It was a dry itching eczema.But i cured it through allopathic medicine. But it doesn’t completely went away . It again appeared in the tip of my penis . So i was shy to go to a doctor. Then i bought all the medicines that i used before but this time it didn’t work. So i made a paste using 100gm sesame oil ,100gm neem leaves oil , &50 gm turmeric powder . & i have applied it yesterday before bed. & when i observed today morning my eczema skin seems clear than before. & i hope within 1 week my eczema will went away.it’s been 1year i was depressed about my eczema. But now i have got all my hopes back.

  12. Hi all, I have some kinda rash which I developed when I was 7 years old and it grew into a Thick patch like lichen in my ankles and top of my feet… getting it treated from then but will try no luck… even injected tricot for 8 weeks and the patch dried up… and left with just few marks of white patch… but for the last one year I patch has reappeared and it’s itchy and bleeding… I read about turmeric and trying it tropically… itchiness has reduced and I do see some difference in the patch… hope it’s working…

  13. .i have recently developed a allergic rash due to juicing,it was extremely itchy and inflamed,
    it almost sent me crazy through lack of sleep then i read this and decided to give it a go i mixed olive oil with turmeric and spread all over rash, repeated this a couple of times before bed washed it all off and spread coconut oil on rash.this has calmed everything down ive had very little itching so far to day and a lot less inflammation.
    hope this is of some help to someone.

    1. Sylvia, thank you for sharing your experience. Turmeric, coconut oil and olive oil are extremely beneficial for skin and turmeric is anti-allergic agent.

  14. I love turmeric! In addition to incorporating it into my cooking, I’ve started using it topically as well.

    I’m treating my eczema by sipping hot water throughout the day to hydrate and with warm oil treatments (my eczema is from excessive dryness and dehydration – there are several different types of eczema with different causes and different treatments – look up treating eczema with Ayurveda). Warm oil massage treatments allow the skin to be moisturizer, nourished, loved, and increases circulation and warmth. My eczema is less dry and flaky now, has stopped spreading, and the area is slowly getting smaller – I’ve been doing the oil treatment for about a week now. But it has still been itchy. The itchiness has plagued me for years! Drives me crazy! Today I pressed my finger into turmeric powder and then gently pressed it into the wound. Burned a tiny bit at first and then itch STOPPED! The redness and swelling also stopped.

    Today I also mixed some turmeric powder into ghee and used it as a face mask. I was worried it would stain my skin yellow but it did not. It washed off in the shower (with just warm water) and my skin looked so amazing I skipped foundation makeup today!! I also used the turmeric powder in my morning sesame oil swish, and brushed my teeth with the turmeric powder, then brushed normally (with Toms licorice toothpaste) and my teeth did get whiter. I’ve been oil pulling every day for just a couple weeks now (I rotate sesame oil and coconut oil as they both have different benefits), and my teeth have been noticeably getting whiter, stronger, less sensitive and my mouth feels cleaner all day. Adding the turmeric today was even more noticeably effective!

  15. Theracurmin by natural factors contains turmeric for inflammatory symptoms in the body. The way the product is done taking turmeric internally each day is safe.

  16. I have been taking a teaspoon of turmeric in water every morning, and recently found out about adding pepper to potentiate it. The problem is, I developed this horrific skin rash on my hands, arms, feet, legs, shoulders, and chest… I tried all kinds of ointments, the best of which contained betnovate, combined with 25 mg of hydroxyzine 4 times daily. Hydroxyzine is like Claritin on steroids and it knocked me flat on my ass for the first day I used it. But it worked sort of, as the itch abated, but that itchy sensitivity did not go away until I stopped taking turmeric.

    I suspect it was the pepper that makes the curcumin bio-available which caused the reaction. So now I have no itch, but I also don’t have the protection afforded by turmeric, which I want, and I intend to have it back. Perhaps taking a much smaller dose multiple times a day, or just using it in cooking may solve the dilemma.

    If you have had experience with this, please share it…

    1. buy the roots of turmeric and grind it at home. Sometimes the turmeric powder of market have yellow colour mixed in it.

    2. I put a teaspoon of turmeric in my morning smoothie. I too recently read about pepper helping in making the curcumin in the turmeric more bio-available. I started adding a teaspoon of black pepper corns to my smoothie. I have since developed a rash. In an effort to solve this rash issue, I have come across this web site. Perhaps I have found my answer?

    3. There is a product called the theracurcumin by natural factors. It is safe and is used for inflammatory in the body.

  17. Under uses where it says “Mix about ½ tsp of turmeric in milk and have it to treat bacterial infections responsible for redness and itching.” Is this solution supposed to be consumed or applied topically to the affected areas? Also, what kind of milk should be used? I have read elsewhere that dairy milk can contribute to eczema so I was curious if you mix turmeric with almond milk, rice milk, etc. instead? Thank you for your time.

  18. I’ve had Bad eczema for 20 years. I got pancreatitis and started using turmeric for inflammation of the pancreas and my eczema completely went away!!!!

    1. Pls can u tell me how u used the tumeric as my daughter 11 years old has been suffering from eczema since she was a baby nothing seems to work lack of sleep makin her depressed

      1. There s a product called Turmeric Golden Milk that I am launching for this problem specifically.
        Will be out in the market soon. Around may.
        Do try it as it is very palatable n delicious too. All natural. The brand is Tea’affaire and is not yet launched. Waiting for food safety licences to come through.

    2. Hi, I too have had eczema for way too long. How did you use the tumeric? Paste applied to skin…eating it??
      Thanks:-)

    3. I also had eczema for last 20 years how I can get rid from this I use everything for this but nothing is cure my problem

  19. I discovered turmeric paste whilst travelling Hawaii. Taking half a teaspoon three times a day it was the first thing that worked in years. Although recently it stopped working and my eczema is getting worse

  20. i didn’t know that it can also treat eczema, thank you ! i already tried turmeric facial mask and the result ? it softens my skin… with yellow stain 😀

    1. I was having problem with my enzyma for a few months. I tried many self experiments and ideas from the Internet. I tried honey, lemon, vinegar, sodium bicarbonate, hydrogen peroxide, zambug, tiger balm. Lemon and vinegar helps but that was before I got a curcuma balm. I can testify that turmeric is best for me. It completely cleared my rashes and itch.

    1. Tumeric actually causes rashes if used in excess.
      My advice only take about 3-4 times a week. Let your body have some rest.

    1. I have been taking an extra strength turmeric with black pepper for a few months. Recently, I had an itchy pimple break out on my thigh, some digestive distress and reduced appetite . I think upon doing a search on turmeric side effects that too much is not good.