Essential Oils For Eczema and Psoriasis

Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can be extremely distressing. The pain, itchiness, unsightly appearance and potential scarring can leave sufferers feeling helpless and frustrated. The usual course of treatment involves emollients or a course of topical corticosteroids, but often these don’t help in the long term and regular flare-ups can still occur. What is so interesting about both these skin complaints is their connection with stress. Often this connection gets pushed to one side and only the skin irritation is treated, rather than the potential cause of the flare up. The fact that treatments like Aromatherapy take a holistic approach, looking at the whole of the individual, is perhaps its greatest strength. Essential oils can help with the effects of eczema and psoriasis on the skin as well as address underlying factors such as stress that may be triggering the conditions in the first place.


Photo credit: h8rnet @ flickr

Although there are different types of eczema they can all benefit from the use of essential oils. Atopic eczema tends to be hereditary and can be linked with other allergic reactions such as hay fever and asthma, while contact dermatitis can come about from over exposure to certain chemicals or products (it is very common amongst hair dressers for example). There are other forms such as discoid, pompholyx and seborrhoeic eczema, which can affect specific parts of the body, but they all cause intense itching, pain, flaking, cracked and sometimes even blistering of the skin. The best essential oils to use are lavender, chamomile, neroli and melissa for their anti-inflammatory properties as well as their ability to promote healing.

One of the symptoms of eczema is that the skin will feel hot to the touch. Because of this the use of carrier oil is not advisable as it can actually aggravate the condition. Use a fragrance free lotion or cream instead, which will have a soothing and cooling action on inflamed skin. Add 9-drops roman chamomile, 3-drops lavender and 3-drops neroli to 60ml of lotion or cream and blend well. Apply to the affected area 2-3 times a day. These oils will reduce pain, prevent itching and help the skin cells regenerate. Lavender and chamomile are relaxing and calming oils while neroli is anti-depressant and emotionally uplifting. The beautiful aromas of these oils will work to combat stress, which can help keep eczema flare ups under control.


Photo credit: er Guiri @ flickr

Another way to use these oils is in a warm, not hot, bath. Once again I would avoid the use of carrier oil and would dilute the essential oils in 1-2 Tablespoons of milk instead. Melissa is a great choice, but keep in mind it is a very potent oil, so use only 2-3 drops in the bath (Note: I would not use this oil with babies or children, opt for roman chamomile instead). It’s slight lemony-scent is incredibly soothing for the emotions and it, along with chamomile, is one of the top oils for the aromatherapeutic treatment of eczema. A cold compress can also be used especially if the skin is feeling hot and itchy. For this I would use 2-3 drops of chamomile on a cold flannel and repeat as necessary.

Psoriasis is a hereditary condition where old skin cells aren’t being shed quickly enough. New cells grow on top causing the skin to take on a silvery, scaly appearance. This condition is more unsightly than it is itchy or painful, but the psychological effects of psoriasis should not be underestimated. It can take a long time for any improvement to be seen, but essential oils can help. As with eczema, the use of carrier oils may be more irritating to the skin than helpful, although aloe vera oil would be a good choice. The use of fragrance free lotions or creams with natural, rough porridge oats added can give the skin a gentle exfoliating treatment. Bergamot, lavender, chamomile, sandalwood, patchouli, rose and tea tee are all good essential oils to use. Add 9-drops bergamot, 3-drops lavender and 6-drops rose to 40 ml of lotion or cream and add about 1-2 Tablespoons of raw, porridge oats. Massage into the affected area at least twice a day to help reduce the scaly appearance and feel of the skin. The oils also play a role in calming the emotions and boosting self-esteem, which can often suffer in those with psoriasis. A chamomile or lavender cold compress can be beneficial, as can a warm bath with 4-drops sandalwood and 2-drops bergamot in 2 Tablespoons of aloe vera carrier oil.