Skin acts as a barrier protecting us from the outside world. Crucial to our survival and well-being, we need to be kind to it —especially as its health and appearance can play an important role in our sense of identity.
Despite scientific advances in treatments for skin problems, many people still prefer to rely on natural ingredients and home remedies.
This chronic skin condition, characterized by an itchy, red, scaly rash, can be relieved with natural remedies. Cleansers, salves, and plant-based poultices can help to soothe the itching and inflammation and moisturize dry skin.
Basic Skin Care
If you are prone to eczema, your skin needs oil and moisture to restore its natural balance.
Note: If you have allergies, animal and plant ingredients can trigger an allergic reaction, so use them with caution.
- Soap-free cleansers are gentle and therefore far less irritating to the skin.
- Plant-based salves with jojoba or evening primrose oil are good moisturizers.
Check with a doctor before you use a home remedy, as eczema varies from person to person. The remedy you use must be right for you.
- Press raw cabbage leaves with a rolling pin until the juice comes out. Warm the leaves in a strainer held above steam and apply twice daily.
- Pour 1 cup (250 ml) cold water over 2 teaspoons (10 ml) dried chickweed. Boil for 5 minutes, strain and cool to lukewarm. Soak a cloth in the liquid, wring it out and apply to the rash for 15 minutes.
- Stir together 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fuller’s earth (see here) and an equal amount of cold water to form a thick paste. Apply to eczema for 20 minutes. Rinse with cool water then treat your skin with an anti-inflammatory salve containing vitamin E.
- Chamomile or calendula ointments can moisturize skin and soothe the relentless itching: For best results keep products in the refrigerator and use them cold.
- Aromatherapy baths—no longer than 10 minutes, no hotter than 95°F (35°C)—return moisture to the skin: Add 10 drops chamomile or lavender oil with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) sweet almond oil.
Note: Oil baths are slippery, so be careful.
• An oat bath leaves skin feeling soft and supple and calms the itch: Pour 2 cups (500 g) oats into an old stocking, knot the end and add to the bathwater.
GOOD TO KNOW
Causes of Eczema
Contact eczemas are an allergic reaction to specific foodstuffs, metals, cleaning agents or cosmetics. Atopic eczemas are usually inherited. Around 10 percent of the population is affected by them. The most common atopic eczema is neurodermatitis, which requires medical care.
Things to Avoid if Prone to Eczema –
• Alkaline soaps, cosmetics containing alcohol and synthetic grooming products dry your skin out even more and make it susceptible to secondary infections from bacteria, viruses, or funguses.
- Frequent contact with water over 95°F (35°C).
- Intense sunbathing.
- Handling chemicals without protective gloves.
Sunlight has many beneficial qualities, but we must also protect ourselves from health problems caused by its rays, including skin cancer. Since sunburn is a first-degree burn, anything that cools the skin will help to relieve the pain—from a wet T-shirt to a cold cloth soaked in saline solution and placed on the burn. To make the solution, dissolve 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt in 2 quarts (2 L) distilled water.
Home Remedies for Sunburn
You could try one of the following, but never use any remedies on skin that is blistered or open.
- Wraps with milk, yogurt or buttermilk soothe pain and cool the skin. Apply at least twice a day for 30 minutes. Thin slices of cucumber, potato, or apple also cool hot skin.
- Rub the burn with the cut surface of a lemon or a tomato—the vitamin C encourages healing.
- Place a wrap soaked in cooled black tea or witch hazel tea 1 tablespoon (15 ml) witch hazel in 11/2 cups (375 ml) water—on reddened skin several times a day.
- Mix a few drops of evening primrose and lemon oil in equal proportions and apply daily.
- Try gels or creams containing aloe vera or arnica.
- Drink plenty of fluids, preferably cool herbal teas, mineral water, or diluted fruit juices.
WHEN TO CONSULT A DOCTOR
For severe headaches, sunburn in babies and little children, severe pain and burn blisters, see a doctor. Never pierce or burst the blisters.
Preventing Sunburn –
Check the weather on your smartphone or radio for that day’s UV Index level and the time during which sun protection is needed.
- 0–2 (low) UV Index: Minimal protection required. Wear sunglasses and use sunscreen with a SPF factor of 15+. Cover up if outside for more than an hour.
- 3–5 (moderate) UV Index: Wear a hat, sunglasses, and a sunscreen with a SPF factor of 30+. Cover up if outside for 30 minutes or more. Reduce time in the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- 6–7 (high) UV Index: Wear a hat, sunglasses and apply sunscreen with a SPF factor of 45. Avoid direct sunlight between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- 8–10 (extremely high) UV Index: Use extra precautions—unprotected skin will burn quickly and could suffer long-term damage. Avoid going outside between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you must, stay in the shade, cover up and apply a sunscreen with a SPF factor of 45+.
- 11+ (extreme) UV Index: Take exceptional precautions. Stay inside or remain in the shade. Cover up and apply SPF 60 sunscreen. Only expose yourself to midday sunlight for a few minutes.
Herbs Can Help
The herbs burdock root and red clover have blood-purifying properties and help to keep skin healthy. Regularly drinking tea made from these herbs can help to alleviate eczema. Mix equal amounts of dried burdock root and red clover. Boil 2–3 teaspoons (10–15 ml) of this herbal mixture in 2 cups (500 ml) water, strain and drink the tea 3–4 times a day.
CUTS & SCRAPES
Whether it is a finger cut during food preparation or a grazed knee following a fall from a bicycle, there are plenty of traditional remedies that can treat minor skin damage effectively.
FIRST Aid –
The most crucial aspect of wound care is to clean and disinfect the wound thoroughly.
- Carefully remove any foreign objects from a cut, scratch, or abrasion with disinfected tweezers.
- Disinfect with an antiseptic solution or cream such as Neosporin.
- To stop bleeding, wrap a clean cloth or towel around the affected area and apply pressure.
HOME Remedies –
Twenty-four hours after the injury, the wound should have closed and can be treated to aid healing. Only use these remedies on unbroken skin. You will find any number of commercial antibacterial ointments at the pharmacy, but why not try one of Mother Nature’s simple, low cost solutions?
- Tea tree oil compresses have proven their worth to many generations of healers. Add 5–8 drops of oil to a clean cloth and cover the wound for 24 hours. Repeat regularly.
- For a yarrow wrap, add 1/2 cup (100 ml) boiling water to 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried yarrow flowers and strain. Moisten a cloth with the solution, gently wring it out and apply to the injured skin.
- To speed healing, scald a lavender tea bag, let it cool and place it on a wound.
- Vitamin C helps wounds heal. Treat yourself to an extra serving of strawberries or a juicy orange.
Bandage with Chamomile Tincture –
- Pour about 1/2 cup (100 ml) rubbing alcohol over 1 tablespoon (15 g) chamomile flowers. Let the solution steep for 10 days.
- Carefully strain the solution and thoroughly wring out the juice from the chamomile flowers. Pour the mixture into a clean bottle.
- Dilute the tincture with water in a 1:4 ratio and apply to a piece of muslin. Leave on your injured skin for at least 30 minutes.
CABBAGE Wrap –
Not only is cabbage packed with important nutrients, but its leaves also have many healing properties. A wrap made with cabbage alleviates pain and helps to promotes healing. Use it twice a day.
How to prepare:
- Rinse a few inside leaves from a head of cabbage and remove the central rib.
- Soften the leaves with a rolling pin, then apply to your wound for several hours at a time using a bandage or plastic wrap to hold them in place. Try boiling some cabbage and cleanse your skin with the cooking water.
Prevention of Cuts and Scrapes
- Minor accidents are inevitable, but taking sensible precautions, such as wearing protective gloves, storing knives correctly or wearing kneepads when cycling, will minimize injuries.
- Check that your tetanus shot is up to date.