Winter is on the horizon, which means it’s time to start preparing for a few long months of darkness, cold, and itchy skin. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, impacts around 35 million Americans each year, and harsh, dry winter weather tends to only exacerbate the rash. The condition makes the skin red and itchy, and it is often chronic with periodic flares.
Eczema can be very difficult to treat because its cause is unknown. However, it is thought to be linked to an overactive immune system response to an unknown irritant, sometimes a food, household product, animal dander, or stress. The condition is also common in families with histories of other allergies and eczema. Unfortunately, there is no cure, but there are several treatments, including medication, specific moisturizers, and ointments.
If you experience eczema, you might be on the hunt for a natural medicine to calm symptoms. Studies suggest that primrose oil can calm the rash. Here’s what to know about the natural remedy and how – if at all – you should incorporate it into your eczema care routine.
A Brief History
Primrose has a long history of medicinal uses. People native to North and South America used the stem of the plant, juices, and leaves to sooth everything from skin inflammation to swelling and bruises. The use of the oil as a remedy for eczema began in the 1930s, then later for psoriasis and acne. Primrose has also been linked to treatment for arthritis, osteoporosis, breast pain, diabetic neuropathy, and menopausal symptoms, but the research is pretty spotty. As for soothing eczema, a 2013 study found that doses between 160 mg and 360 mg given to children and teenagers were effective.
How Does it Work?
Primrose oil is rich in fatty acids, which can help the body grow and develop. These fatty acids are also known to soothe irritated skin, hence the eczema application. The fatty acids typically found include gamma linolenic, linoleic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic.
How to Incorporate
Most doctors don’t suggest treating eczema with primrose on its own. Rather, they suggest incorporating primrose oil into a regimen that includes cream moisturizers and/or corticosteroid cream. If you decide to go with a heavy cream moisturizer, we recommend adding primrose oil directly to the moisturizer container before application.
Primrose oil can be taken orally or topically. If you are pregnant, do not take primrose oil orally, as it can lead to birth complications.