The word “dermatitis” is of Greek origin – “derma” means skin, while “itis” is a suffix added to nouns in order to denote a disease that causes inflammation. This already helps us understand what this skin condition is all about. Now all that’s left is to find out more about natural remedies for dermatitis!
Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin, more commonly known as a rash. In most cases, it refers to the symptom of an allergic reaction, though the term is sometimes also used for eczema. In many languages, the two are actually synonyms. However, dermatitis is an acute condition (short-lasting), while eczema is a chronic one (long-lasting).
The main symptom of dermatitis is dry, red, itchy skin. In some cases, this can also be accompanied by swelling of the skin, skin lesions, and blisters. Other symptoms depend on the type of dermatitis you have. Dermatitis herpetiformis is characterized by small, red, itchy bumps that can be found on the back, shoulders, elbows, knees, neck, and scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis affects the scalp, which becomes covered in white-yellow flakes. Last, perioral dermatitis means having a red, bumpy rash only around the mouth.
Dermatitis can be caused by various factors: particular health conditions (especially immunity problems), genetic factors, allergies, or irritants. Irritants include cleaning products, such as detergents, soaps, or bleach, while allergens include jewelry, metal (nickel), rubber, fiberglass, cosmetics, perfumes, and various plants. It can also be caused by a deficiency of vitamin B3 (niacin).
Tips for Treating Dermatitis
Various creams and lotions can help treat dermatitis. You can apply a thin layer of calamine lotion 2-3 times a day. You can also try some hydrocortisone cream, especially if the dermatitis is caused by an allergic reaction to something. It has anti-inflammatory properties and it will help get rid of the itch.
Even if it’s itchy, you shouldn’t scratch the irritated skin; if you break the skin, this might lead to an infection. It’s better to rub the skin with your fingertips than to scratch it with your nails. Also, keep your nails short and clean, just in case you happen to scratch your skin by accident.
Don’t wear jewelry that contains nickel, especially in hot weather. If possible, coat your nickel jewelry with some clear nail polish. Even 14 karat gold can have some nickel, so your skin reacts strongly to it, it’s best to buy 24 karat gold jewelry. You can also wear jewelry made from platinum and stainless steel. Also, be careful when it comes to ear-piercing: make sure the needle used is stainless.
It’s best to wear loose clothes made only of natural fabrics (cotton). Always wash new clothes before wearing them, in order to remove chemicals that have been used to treat the fabrics. It’s also recommended to rinse your clothes twice.
Hydrate your skin by taking a shower or a relaxing bath. Use warm water, not hot, and stay inside the shower or bathtub for 15-20 minutes. Try to avoid soap, or use gentle ones and rinse your skin properly. Remember to use moisturizer throughout the day, so that your skin won’t become too dry. Also, protect your skin from poisonous plants and from sunburns; for the latter, it’s recommended to use a sunscreen with SPF15 or higher.
Natural Remedies for Dermatitis
A simple way of cooling the itch and swelling is by using cool compresses. You can soak them in cool water and keep them on the irritated skin for 10-15 minutes, every hour or two. You can soak them in milk and use them, as well. Also, when it comes to taking a relaxing bath, you can add oatmeal (one cup of powdered oatmeal) or baking soda. Both will soothe the skin.
Herbal medicine can do wonders when it comes to treating dermatitis. Burdock and red closer have detoxifying and purifying properties, which are also good for the skin. Chamomile flowers can be used to prepare a cold infusion (first boil, then let it cool and add ice cubes) which you can use to soak the skin for 10-15 minutes – compresses work, too. Other useful herbs include licorice, calendula, and ginkgo Biloba. All can be prepared and used as an infusion.
A mix of herbs can also be useful for your skin. Take a bowl and add two cups of water, one teaspoon of comfrey root, one teaspoon of slippery elm bark, and one teaspoon of white oak bark. Mix together and then let it boil for about 30 minutes. Once it cools, use it to wash your skin.
You can also make a paste of almond leaves. Take some fresh almond leaves, add them to a cup of water and crush and mix until you get a smooth paste. Apply it to your skin, let it sit for 3-5 minutes, then clean the skin with lukewarm water.
Coconut oil is known for its anti-microbial properties, which makes it a great choice when it comes to treating dermatitis. Use virgin coconut oil, warm it and apply it to the skin, rubbing gently. It will also help moisturize your skin.
Other things which you can apply to the affected area include apple cider vinegar, honey, and aloe vera gel. You can soak a clean cotton ball in apple cider vinegar to apply it to your skin; wash it off after a few minutes. Aloe vera gel can be used similarly, even when it’s applied several times a day. Last, honey should be diluted in a bit of water, in order to make it easier to apply.
Lastly, both vitamin B3 and vitamin E are known to be good for your skin. You can get them naturally by eating various foods. You can find lots of vitamin B3 in fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel); chicken and turkey breast; lamb, beef, and chicken liver; roasted peanuts; sunflower seeds; avocado; mushrooms, and green peas. Also get your daily dose of vitamin E from nuts and seeds (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds), fortified cereals, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, bell peppers, avocado, olive oil, and shrimps.
Side Effects and Contraindications
You don’t have to worry about side effects caused by natural remedies for dermatitis. However, it’s better to check for possible allergic reactions, especially as one common symptom is skin rashes. Also, if you’re taking any medication, talk with your doctor in order to make sure a particular natural remedy won’t interfere with your medication.
As for contraindications, avoid products that end in “caine” and topical antihistamines, as they are known to cause allergic reactions. Read all the labels before buying/trying a product, even those that are marked as “hypoallergenic”.