Eczema Home Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on May 29, 2024
4 min read

Home remedies for eczema can be simple or complex. The easiest, most effective treatment is to make changes to avoid or remove whatever is causing the allergic reaction. But try not to expect a quick response. Eczema is easier to control than cure.

Here are some things you can try on your own to ease the irritation of eczema.

Change your laundry detergent or fabric softener. Liquid detergents may be less irritating than powders or tablets. Use an extra rinse cycle when you wash to remove residue.

Put on a cool compress. Holding a clean, damp cloth against skin can ease itching.

Take lukewarm (not hot) showers or baths for no more than 10 or 15 minutes to prevent dry skin. Dry yourself very carefully (pat dry, instead of rubbing hard) and apply moisturizing lotion, cream, oil, or ointment all over your body.

Add colloidal oatmeal to the bath or as a paste on your skin. This finely ground oatmeal helps with itchy, dry skin. Or try a baking soda bath or paste.

A mild solution of bleach and water may ease inflammation and itching, as well as killing the bacteria that can cause skin infections when you have eczema. Add a half-cup of household bleach to a full tub of water, soak for 10 minutes, and rinse. Talk to your doctor before giving this a try because chlorine can cause problems for some people.

Add apple cider vinegar to bath water. Use an amount between 1-2 cups.

Use mild soaps or body cleansers. Look for something that’s superfatted (with extra fats) and non-alkaline (with a lower pH level). Watch out for sodium lauryl sulfate, which can irritate skin. Rinse completely to get rid of residue.

Moisturize your skin twice a day. But avoid lotions with fragrances or other irritating ingredients.

Apply coconut oil to damp skin once or twice a day. It may fight the bacteria that can cause skin infections. Check the label to be sure it’s “virgin” or “cold-pressed” oil.

Put on sunflower oil twice a day. It helps your skin hold moisture and eases inflammation. But don’t use it if you’re allergic to sunflower seeds.

Ask your doctor about vitamins or supplements. Some people who have eczema use things like vitamin D, fish oil, zinc, selenium, prebiotics and probiotics, turmeric, and CBD to feel better.

Stay away from wool, mohair, and other irritating fibers. Linen, cotton, and silk are better options. It may help to choose organic fabrics in light colors.

Avoid tight-fitting, rough, or scratchy clothing. Wear soft, loose, breathable clothes.

Try not to scratch the rash. If you can't stop yourself, cover the area with a bandage or dressing. Wear gloves at night to minimize skin damage from scratching.

Limit high-intensity exercise during a flare. Anything that causes sweating can irritate the rash.

Manage physical and mental stress. A balanced diet, light activity, and plenty of sleep will help you stay healthy, which can help prevent flares.

Get a massage. This is another good way to relieve stress. Look for a massage therapist who has experience with eczema or similar skin conditions. Be sure they use oils or lotions that won’t irritate your skin.

Look into acupressure. This is similar to acupuncture but uses pressure at certain spots on your body, instead of needles. Some research shows that it can help with the symptoms of eczema.

Use wet wraps to hydrate and calm skin during a severe flare. Dampen clothing or gauze in warm water and wrap it around the affected area. Cover it with a dry layer and loose clothing. You can leave this on for several hours or overnight. Adding apple cider vinegar may help your skin’s pH. Try a solution of 1 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Check with your doctor first because it can cause a reaction in some people.

Change jobs or move to a new climate. These are extreme solutions, but they’re worth considering if eczema is severely affecting your day-to-day life.

If you can’t identify or remove the thing that’s causing the problem, the next step is to lessen the inflammatory response.

  • Apply an over-the-counter steroid cream (hydrocortisone) along with anti-itching lotion (menthol/camphor, such as calamine). The cream must be applied as often as possible, without skipping days, until the rash is gone.
  • Take diphenhydramine in pill form for the itching. But don’t take this medication if you need to drive a car or operate machinery, as it can make you sleepy. You may want to try levocetirizine (Xyzal) or loratadine (Claritin), which don’t have this effect.
  • Clean the area with a hypoallergenic soap every day. Put on lubricating cream or lotion after washing.

Cool compresses and colloidal oatmeal baths can help many children who have eczema. Parents might also:

  • Distract your child. Play a game, give your child a snack, or tell them a story. Don’t just tell them to stop scratching. This usually makes things worse.
  • Use eczema mittens or sleeves. These will keep babies from scratching and damaging skin.
  • Give a gentle pinch near the irritated skin. A very soft pinch on unaffected skin can ease itching.
  • Have older kids tap the skin around an itchy spot.