Common Natural Remedies for Atopic Dermatitis

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: February 2024

You may take over-the-counter or prescription medicines to treat the symptoms of your atopic dermatitis (eczema). There are also a variety of natural approaches people include in their eczema treatment plan.1

Conventional medicine is the approach to preventing and treating diseases taken by most licensed doctors in the United States. Also called Western medicine, it is based on scientific evidence.2,3

Complementary and integrative health (CIH) refers to a set of whole-body healthcare practices that combine conventional medicine with nonconventional (complementary) treatment methods. Western doctors have not prescribed many CIH methods in the past. But this is changing as evidence of their benefits grows. CIH is sometimes called complementary and alternative medicine.2,3

Skincare basics

The outer layer of the skin is called the skin barrier. In people with eczema, the skin barrier does not work correctly. This causes the skin to lose moisture. The first step to restoring skin moisture is moisturizing after your bath or shower. Moisturizing after bathing helps to seal in moisture.4

Coconut oil

Many people find moisturizing with coconut oil helps relieve itching and dryness. “Virgin” or “cold-pressed” coconut oil is best because it is free from added chemicals.5

Coconut oil has the following benefits for the skin:5

  • Improves hydration
  • Reduces the risk of infection
  • Decreases inflammation

For the best results, apply coconut oil after bathing while the skin is still damp.4

Sunflower seed oil

Sunflower seed oil is another natural oil that can boost skin hydration when applied after bathing. Avoid using this oil if you have a food allergy to sunflower seeds.1,4

Bath oil

Unscented bath oils can boost the moisturizing effect of bathing. Be careful, as oil residue can make the bath slippery.1

Petroleum jelly

Plain, unscented petroleum jelly can deliver powerful moisturizing results. The high oil content of petroleum jelly makes it effective at sealing in moisture after bathing. To decrease the greasiness:1,6

  1. Apply it to damp skin
  2. Give it time to soak in
  3. Pat off any excess

Colloidal oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal is a soothing ingredient in many bath and body products. It is also available as an unscented powder that you can add to your bath. Some people find that it helps to calm itching and improve skin hydration.6

Baking soda and Epsom salt

Baking soda or unscented Epsom salt baths can help relieve itchy skin. You can also apply baking soda directly to the skin as a paste.1,7


Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy. Adding a small amount of vinegar to your bath water is unlikely to cause harm. But research shows it may not help much with skin inflammation and itching.8

Bleach baths

Doctors sometimes recommend bleach baths for moderate to severe eczema. Talk to your doctor before starting bleach baths.1,6,9

Tips for bleach baths include:1,6,9

  • Use about one-fourth to one-half cup of bleach to 40 gallons of lukewarm water or 1 teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water. The bleach should be unscented, 6 percent, and regular strength (not concentrated).
  • Fragrance-free bleach (sodium hypochlorite) body wash is available for people who prefer to shower.
  • Soak for 5 to 10 minutes up to 2 to 3 times per week.
  • Rinse off with plain water.
  • Apply medicines you put on your skin (topical medicines) and moisturizer to damp skin right after bathing.
  • Bleach baths can be for the entire body below the neck or a soak just for affected areas.
  • Avoid submerging your head or getting bleach water in your eyes.

Whole-body approaches

Stress is a known trigger for inflammation and eczema flares. There are many nontraditional approaches to mind-body wellness that help relieve stress. These approaches may ease your eczema symptoms.1

Some people find the following mind-body techniques helpful:1

  • Hypnosis
  • Biofeedback
  • Acupressure
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi

Vitamins and supplements

Few studies have looked at vitamin use for eczema. One review looked at 8 previous studies to see how vitamins affect people with eczema. More research is needed. But the review found that the following vitamins improved symptoms of eczema:10

  • Oral (taken by mouth) vitamin D (available as vitamin D2 or vitamin D3)
  • Oral vitamin E
  • Topical vitamin B12

Talk to your doctor before starting a home remedy. Many products labeled as “natural” contain fragrances and other ingredients that can irritate your skin. Read labels carefully and consult the NEA product directory, published by the National Eczema Association, to find products free of common irritants.11

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