Natural Health News and Articles

Essential Oils & other Natural Treatments for Eczema

Reviewed & edited by Dr. Jeffrey C. Lederman, DO, MPH and Julie A. Cerrato, PhD, AP, CYT, CAP

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that usually occurs in children (often starting before age 5) but that can occur at any age. Eczema usually lasts for years but tends to flare up and subside.


Symptoms include cracked, dry or scaly skin that itches, often getting worse at night; red or brown patches, commonly inside the bend of the elbows and knees and, in infants, on the face and scalp; small, raised bumps on the skin that may leak fluid when scratched; and red, swollen skin that’s irritated from scratching.


Researchers haven’t identified a definitive cause of eczema but believe that the condition could be hereditary. Eczema may be a result of a gene variation that affects the performance of the epidermis, which is the outer layer of the skin that acts as a barrier to protect the body from the irritants, allergens and microbes of the outside environment.

Another possible cause of eczema is a dysfunction of the immune system, which generates an inflammatory response to environmental factors.

For years, people blamed eczema on allergies, but eliminating allergens has been found to rarely help clear the condition.


Doctors usually treat eczema with prescription creams that contain steroids and antibiotics. They also recommend antihistamines, hydrocortisone and prescription-strength moisturizers. While pharmaceutical treatments are helpful, they only suppress symptoms and do not heal the root of the problem.

Instead, consider essential oils like lavender oil and tea tree oil, which can act as restorative agents to the skin as well as provide aromatherapy to aid in relaxation and reduce stress.

Lavender oil has antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties that act to restore the skin. Lavender oil gently eases irritation while working to promote a healthy balance of nutrients on the skin.

Tea tree oil acts as a protective agent for the skin with its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It also has been shown to help reduce the appearance of scar marks, which may result from constant scratching.

Essential oils are potent and highly concentrated, which means that they may cause skin irritation. Consider combining the oil with a water or oil-based substance to reduce potency.

The aromatic compounds of the lavender and tea tree oils act as a stress reducer, which also is important because stress is one of the primary causes of eczema skin flare-ups. To maximize the aromatic benefits of these essential oils, consider an aromatherapy diffuser.

Other ways to manage eczema

  • Choosing mild soaps and detergents without dyes or perfumes and making sure to rinse the soap completely off the body when bathing
  • Moisturizing the skin at least twice a day, especially after bathing, to ensure that the skin stays hydrated
  • Avoiding excessive bathing, which can cause more dryness
  • Wearing cool, smooth-textured cotton clothing
  • Avoiding rough, tight or scratchy clothing such as wool
  • Using a humidifier if indoor air is hot and dry
  • Reducing or eliminating stress

Written by Jessica Braun. Jessica is a health writer at WholesomeONE. She can be reached at jessica.braun[at]wholesomeone[ dot]com.


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Natural Health News and Articles

Supplements for Micronutrient Deficiencies

Reviewed & edited by Dr. Jeffrey C. Lederman, DO, MPH and Julie A. Cerrato, PhD, AP, CYT, CAP

Not everyone can eat nutrient-dense foods for every meal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American consumes only one fruit and one or two vegetables per dayi. This may be one reason why millions of people do not meet the daily intakes, known as Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), for some vitamins and minerals provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)ii. If individuals fall short of RDA values, dietary supplements may help provide vital micronutrients required for optimal health that are not consumed through a daily diet.

Micronutrients, including vitamins and trace minerals, support a variety of physiological functions within humans and other living things. Vitamins are complex organic moleculesiii, and minerals are mostly inorganic chemical materials that can be found in nature in the form of deposits or salts. Both are needed for biological processes.

While there are several important vitamins and minerals to the body, 13 vitamins, are considered “essential,” for normal cell function, growth and developmentiv. These include four fat-soluble vitamins– A, D, E and K, and nine water-soluble vitamins – C, B1(thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), Pantothenic acid, Biotin, B6, B12 and Folate (folic acid). There are 15 minerals that are considered “essential” for proper bodily function, and they include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, copper, potassium, sodium, chloride, sulfur, iodine, fluoride, cobalt, selenium, manganese and zincvi.

In rare instances, states of clinical (“true”) deficiencies occur with the extended avoidance of certain vitamins or minerals; such conditions include deficiencies like Scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) or Rickets (vitamin D deficiency). Conversely, extremely high levels of vitamins and minerals that exceed recommended intakes, are not necessarily beneficial for the human body and may actually be harmful. For example, people with Wilson’s diseasevii,a rare genetic disorder that causes excess copper to accumulate in vital organs like the liver and brain, require a lower intake of copper from daily nutrientsviii. Similarly, too much vitamin A can cause birth defects, and excess amounts of vitamin E may increase the risk of hemorrhagingix.

On a more positive note, recent studies have shown how consuming dietary supplements can assist the absorption of vitamins and minerals found naturally in foods. One study, by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, points to the way dietary supplement use is linked to higher intakes of minerals. In the study, individuals who took mineral-containing supplements had higher mineral intakes from food sources in the diet than did non-users.x

Although supplements may provide a greater intake of valuable micronutrients, the question remains as to whether there is adequate absorption of these nutrients and exactly what benefit they may add. Recent investigation of this question includes results from a studyxi published in the Journal of Pediatrics, which assessed the effects of dietary supplements on vitamin absorption in children. In children older than 8 years, dietary supplements were shown to add micronutrients to diets inadequate for crucial vitamins and minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and E. Children 2-8 years old, on the other hand, had nutritionally satisfactory diets regardless of supplement use.

This new bulk of literature examining the effects of vitamins and minerals may help redirect current thinking on the use of dietary supplements for children and adults. Often, supplements are used in an attempt to increase life expectancy, however a more immediate goal may be to provide individuals with micronutrients that are often lacking on a daily basis in typical diets. To ascertain key deficiencies or overabundances of vitamins and minerals for an individual’s daily dietary needs, a blood test can be administered by a medical practitioner.

Since everyone’s nutritional requirements are unique, it may be beneficial to monitor one’s diet, observe how it affects one’s health, and identify where supplements may be of use. Using the recommended micronutrient intake ranges provided by the USDAxii will help increase mindfulness of the essential vitamins and minerals needed for an optimal diet. Deficiencies or excesses can then be targeted through diet first, and secondarily with supplements, if needed.