Choosing an eczema ointment

The importance of an eczema ointment for moisturizing cannot be over emphasized as a treatment for eczema and sensitive skin. Moisturizers maintain skin hydration and barrier function.

Topical steroids are an important part of the treatment plan for most people with eczema. When eczema flares up, applying cream, lotion or ointment containing a steroid will reduce inflammation, ease soreness and irritation, reduce itching, and relieve the need to scratch, allowing the skin to heal and recover.

However, these conventional medications come with side effects such as:

  • burning or stinging of the skin – this is a common side effect that usually occurs when you start treatment; it tends to improve after a few days as your skin gets used to the medication
  • worsening of a pre-existing skin infection
  •  folliculitis – inflamed hair follicle
  • thinning of the skin – this can make the affected skin more vulnerable to damage; for example, you may bruise more easily
  • stretch marks
  • contact dermatitis – skin irritation caused by a mild allergic reaction to the substances in a particular topical corticosteroid
  •  acne, or worsening of existing acne
  • rosacea – a condition that causes the face to become red and flushed
  • changes in skin color – this is usually more noticeable in people with dark skin
  • excessive hair growth on the area of skin being treated

More and more people are turning to herbal therapy to heal their eczema due to its little or no side effects.

Are herbal ointments safe to use?

As with any alternative method in treating a skin disease or disorder, it is important for patients to carefully discuss their options with a medical professional or with a licensed and experienced herbalist.  Some herbs have a high level of toxicity and while effective, may still lead to health complications if not used properly. Herbal ointments are not only safe but they are cheap and one can make them at home.

How to prepare your own herbal eczema ointment

Salves or ointments have had a long history in home treatment. Herbs such as calendula and camomile, which are antibacterial and soothing, make effective ingredients in eczema ointments. Other common ingredients for ointments are

  • Aloe vera
  • St. John's wort
  • Comfrey 
  • Gotu kola

There are several ways of preparing eczema ointment.

Using lard:

Traditionally, lard was used as a base for ointments, but these days people are usually repelled by the thought of putting animal fat on their skin. In reality lard makes an excellent ointment base because its fatty structure is similar to that of the human skin. This allows lard to penetrate the skin much better than most other carrier substances. If you decide not to use lard in your  eczema ointment, use the method described next, substituting lard for oil with beeswax.

Using vegetable oil and beeswax:

Many modern healers use oil with added beeswax as abase for ointments. Use a quarter cup of beeswax for each cup of oil. Use dried herbs at a ratio of about one ounce per cup of oil. Extra virgin olive oil is a very good, stable oil to use as a base for ointments.

Another very stable base is coconut butter. Make sure to buy organic, unhydrogenated and untreated coconut butter available in herbal stores. Coconut butter turns into a thick liquid at room temperature but gets very hard in the refrigerator (where they would get too hard) but van be kept at room temperature. Wax can be added to give this base the desired consistency at room temperature. Cocoa butter is also an option for a stable base.

If you want to use more than one herb in an ointment, use equal quantities of each herb to add up to approximately one ounce per cup of oil. You can mix herbal matters such as leaves, flowers and/or powdered herbs. Stir herbs into oil. Gently heat oil on the stove. Make sure t use very low heat. Never allow the oil to come to a boil. Oil is ready in about 6 hours when it has taken on a rich, dark color and is strongly scented. Strain oil through a cheese cloth, squeeze dry and discard herbs. Return oil to the pot, and melt in a quarter cup of shaved beeswax.

Test a small quantity of this mixture by putting it in the refrigerator long enough to cool to room temperature. If the ointment is too hard, add more oil to the mixture; if it is too soft, melt in more wax. put ointment into relatively small jars. Keep any jar you are currently using away from too much heat. Store extra jars in the refrigerator.


Using herbal oil and beeswax:

If you have already made your own herbal oil, you can use it as a base for your eczema ointment. Gently warm the herbal oil in a double boiler, melting a quarter cup of of beeswax for each cup of herbal oil. Do not cover the pot. Proceed as described in the previous method. An easy method that is gentle on the essential oils is to slowly melt the wax into the oil base. The mixture is cooled down a little but has to stay liquid enough for mixing. Finally, two to five drops of essential oil are added per 100 drops of carrier oil. Start with an experiment mix of two percent, testing its strength and your skin's reaction to it. Gradually increase the amount of essential oil to obtain a mixture that works well for you.

Herbal Remedies>Eczema>Ointment

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