Turmeric For Eczema: Does It Work?

Red, itchy and inflamed patches of skin are the main symptoms of eczema, the skin condition also known as atopic dermatitis. The disease affects 3 percent of adults worldwide but is also common among children, for whom the disease continues in adulthood. 

Environmental and genetic factors have a role to play in the formation of the rough skin patches but the underlying causes are relatively unknown. Eczema involves periodic flare-ups and is therefore considered  a chronic condition that needs to be addressed on an individual basis. Treatment depends on what works for the concerned person. Anti-inflammatory creams reduce itching and provide moisture during flare-ups and are generally prescribed by dermatologists. 

A range of natural remedies include aloe vera, coconut oil, honey, apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil. Among these options, turmeric is also used to treat various inflammatory conditions, such as osteoarthritis, because the ingredient has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. 

The Indian spice produced by the turmeric plant contains a chemical called curcumin, which reduces swelling and itching. Turmeric can be taken through supplements in doses up to 12,000 mg a day, intravenously or topically. 

eczema The picture illustrates skin rashes caused by eczema. Carolyn, CC by 2.0

Does Turmeric Really Work?

According to a review of 18 studies published in 2016, which all looked into 234 articles on PubMed and Embase databases, there is some evidence to definitely say that topical and ingested curcumin can aid skin health. The studies were based on humans and analyzed the impact of turmeric products in treating skin conditions. 

Of all the studies included, ten studies noted significant improvement in the diseases affecting the participants ( alopecia, acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and radiodermatitis ) when comparisons were made to control groups. 

“Overall, there is early evidence that turmeric/curcumin products and supplements, both oral and topical, may provide therapeutic benefits for skin health. However, currently published studies are limited and further studies will be essential to better evaluate the efficacy and the mechanisms involved,” researchers stated in the study.  

Ground turmeric has been used for centuries to treat various illnesses. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes it’s a safe ingredient to consume for medical purposes, however, more research remains to be done.