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.
Table of Contents
- Use of turmeric for Eczema and Itching
- How does turmeric help with eczema and skin irritation?
- Forms of turmeric available in the market
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
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.
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:
- 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.
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.
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.