Eczema

Alternative and complementary therapies, supplements and home remedies for eczema

Alternative therapies (such as acupuncture, herbal medicine and homeopathy) can be used with ‘conventional medicine’ (such as emollients and steroids) as part of complementary medicine, or on their own. Some people we talked to had used alternative therapies or said they were interested in trying them in the future.
Red-light therapy is different to medical phototherapy and is usually marketed as a beauty procedure. Katie-Lauren heard about it being available at her local gym and tried it there. She says she could see the improvement to the eczema on her wrists within a day and prefers it over other things she’s tried, as using emollients and steroids make her feel sweaty.
Often linked to herbal medicine approaches, some people made their own ‘home remedies’ or used shop-bought ‘herbal’ products (e.g. lavender cream, primrose oil, coconut oil). Recipes for home remedies were often found online. Some examples mentioned were putting porridge oats, natural yoghurt, honey or aloe vera on eczema.
Taking supplements (e.g. cod liver oil) and being aware of foods eaten were seen as an addition to eczema management by some (see also diet). This includes avoiding foods which they thought might be triggers. Abid thinks that more attention to diet could be “a huge asset to [conventional] medicine”.
There was a lot of interest in finding out more about alternative therapies, supplements and home remedies amongst the young people. They were interested in hearing what others had tried for eczema, but also getting advice from doctors about these. Sometimes parents and family friends had first told them about alternative therapies or arranged these appointments.
A few people had done research about alternative therapies, supplements and home remedies online but struggled to know what to trust. Jessica saw different stories on forums about home remedies to clear up vulva eczema. She found some of the suggestions “strange” and that they came out of “just people getting desperate”, so didn’t try any of them. 

Some people were concerned about possible harm. Aisha also worried that doctors might tell her off if she tried out a home remedy that made her eczema worse. There was scepticism about things which promised a ‘quick fix’. Aisha was concerned about others with eczema buying “miracle cures” online or abroad without knowing what was in them.
Being given ‘bad’ or just ‘unwanted’ advice by other people on managing eczema with alternative medicine, supplements or home remedies is frustrating. Other people might not understand the history of all the things tried already or might suggest a product without thinking about how it might make the eczema worse.
Some people preferred making their own home remedies because these could be more “natural” and cheaper than buying a similar product from a shop. Some ingredients were quite expensive though, and the cost of trying lots of different home remedies could add up. Home remedies can be uncomfortable or unpleasant. Aisha tried mashing up avocado to put on her eczema, but it was difficult to wash out when it got on her hair. Sarah put almond oil on her skin at night but it got on her bedding and made it “claggy”.
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Overall, people had different views on alternative therapies and home remedies. The appeal for many was for more ‘natural’ eczema treatment as they saw conventional medicine as ‘intrusive’ or ‘excessive’. Some said alternative therapies helped them, but others disagreed. Some people hadn’t tried any alternative therapies and were sceptical about whether they had worked or would be as effective as treatments like steroids. Worries about harm and confusion about what to trust online were key reasons why some people wanted more advice from medical professionals about alternative-complementary therapies and herbal remedies.

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