Eczema is a long-term condition that causes the skin to become dry, itchy, red and cracked, according to the NHS. But, moisturising the affected skin with olive oil may be causing more damage than expected, it’s been claimed.
Young children are most at risk of developing eczema symptoms, but it could also develop in later life.
If you have eczema, your symptoms can vary between small patches of dry skin, to widespread, inflamed areas of cracked skin.
You could lower your risk of dry skin by regularly moisturising with certain essential oil, it’s been revealed.
However, using olive oil may be causing your eczema symptoms to get even worse.
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Eczema treatment: Prevent dry and itchy skin without olive oil moisturisers
Olive oil can disrupt the natural moisture balance on your skin, according to the National Eczema Association.
It’s believed that olive oil’s ingredients, including fatty acids, are behind its damaging effect.
If you choose to use oil as a moisturiser for your skin, there are better alternatives with healing properties, it said.
Virgin coconut oil is one of the best remedies for eczema, as it contains anti-inflammatory properties that soots itchy and inflamed skin.
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“A good number of natural oils have beneficial fatty acids that help to repair the skin’s natural barrier, which is defective in patients with eczema,” it said.
“However, not all natural oils are good to use on eczema skin.
“For example, olive oil can disrupt the skin’s natural barrier when used as a moisturiser.
“This is likely because it contains irritating fatty acids such as oleic acids.”
Eczema treatment: Speak to a pharmacist for the best advice on medications
Several natural oils are safe to use on skin as a treatment for eczema.
Their safety largely depends on how they’re extracted from their plant source – and what that source actually is.
Coconut oil, for example, contains a fatty acid that prevents harmful bacteria from growing on the skin, which is common in eczema patients.
Jojoba oil and borage seed oil have also been claimed to relieve itchy and sore skin.
There isn’t a specific cure for eczema, but some eczema treatments may help to reduce the itchy signs of eczema at home.
Emollients and creams could be found at your local pharmacy to treat dry skin.
Keeping nails short and wearing light clothing over affected areas could help to reduce damage from habitual scratching.
Speak to a pharmacist if you’re worried about the signs of eczema, or for advice on the best over-the-counter eczema treatments.