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Jul 11, 2011

Topical Coconut Oil in Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a common condition affecting the skin.  The skin is typically dry, itchy and inflamed, and there may be other unpleasant symptoms such as redness, swelling, cracking, weeping, crusting, and scaling.  The skin may also be readily colonized by the bacteria Staph aureus as well as other unfavorable micro-organisms, predisposing the person to infection.  When treating eczema, the underlying causes (i.e. food sensitivities, improper digestion, diet, etc.) should always be considered and addressed.  Specific topical creams and salves can also be applied to the skin to help heal, moisturize, and protect the skin from infection. 

Coconut oil has historically been widely used for the treatment of dry infected skin.  Not only is there a large body of anecdotal evidence supporting both its effectiveness and safety, but now there is some scientific research that reveals the same.  In a 4-week double-blind controlled trial, patients aged 18-40 years with eczema applied either extra virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil to affected areas twice daily (Dermatitis, 2008).  Researchers found that the patients who were treated with coconut oil had significantly lower scores for dryness and dryness-related conditions including excoriation, lichenification, redness, and swelling.  In his clinics, the author of the published study has also “found consistent improvement or clearing of inflamed or mildly to moderately infected psoriasis and atopic dermatitis lesions” after application of coconut oil. 

For those with eczema looking for a way to help moisturize and heal the skin while also preventing skin infections, topical extra virgin coconut oil may be a good option.  It proves to be effective, safe, inexpensive, and without the potential side effects of other topicals available.
Dr. Shana McQueen