For centuries the Neem tree has been used for healing in Ayurvedic medicine. Known for its antiseptic, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, Neem Oil can make a great, natural alternative to medicated creams to soothe & heal eczema rashes.
Neem oil falls into a category of oils I cannot live without. Right up there with squalane, rosehip and marula oil, neem is one of my most cherished plant oils. Not so much for my face though, (you'll understand why when you smell it!) instead I use neem oil in place of good old fashioned calamine lotion. Remember that stuff?
I mix it with shea butter and a couple of essential oils (recipe at the end of post) and use it for cuts, scrapes, bites and scratches. You see, not only is neem a skin healer, it's a pain killer too! Thanks to an ingredient called quercetin, neems ability to relieve pain is virtually instant.
A BIT OF HISTORY
In Sanskrit, the word for neem is 'nimba', which comes from the term 'nimbati syasthyamdadati' meaning 'To give good health'.
'Pinchumada', another sanskrit word for neem means 'The destroyer of leprosy and healer of skin infections'. Bit more impressive than what it says on the calamine bottle!
Neem's medicinal properties were documented in the ancient books at the foundation of Ayurveda, India's system of natural medicine. Almost every part of the Neem tree has been studied for medicinal use, from the root bark, stem bark, fruit, seed and gum.
One of the most common uses for neem is in treating eczema. Atopic eczema is the general term used to describe allergic skin rashes caused by contact dermatitis. It's a very common skin condition that causes the skin to become extremely irritated, inflamed, itchy, dry and cracked.
Due to the scratching that occurs when eczema rashes flare up, infection is very common, especially in small children. And while medicated creams and ointments work fast to kill bacterial/fungal infections, unfortunately they don't contain nourishing ingredients to help repair and heal the damaged skin.
Common Types of Dermatitis
Often the cause is a genetic mutation in a protein in the skin called filaggrin. This results in a breakdown of the skin barrier function, leading to dehydration in the skin and the ability for aeroallergens (pet dander + dust mites) to penetrate the skin. Such aeroallergens result in allergic inflammation and a strong itching sensation. Scratching further disrupts the skin and causes more inflammation and itching.
Refers to a group of skin disorders in which the skin reaction is due to direct contact with the causative agent. The term dermatitis implies that the outside layers of the skin - the dermis - are affected. It can be acute (a single episode) or chronic (persistent). Dermatitis is nearly always itchy.
Causes scaly, itchy and inflamed skin on areas of the skin rich in oil-producing glands like the scalp. The common name for seborrheic dermatitis is 'dandruff'. In babies it's called 'cradles cap'.
Can cause an angry red rash around the mouth and nose. The skin may appear scaly, bumpy and itchy. To make matters worse, this type of dermatitis can be triggered by products used on the face, like sunscreen, fluorinated toothpaste or cosmetics. It can also be occur in babies by drooling.
Often confused with dermatitis, psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin condition that results in the overproduction of skin cells that go through their life cycle too quickly. Typically, it takes about a month for skin cells to regenerate, but for psoriasis sufferers, this process happens every three to four days! Causing cells to accumulate rapidly on the surface of the skin. Skin becomes inflamed and itchy with patches of rough, silvery, scaly skin appearing anywhere on the body including the scalp. There are several different types of psoriasis, but the most common type is plaque psoriasis.
The Healing Benefits Of Neem
HEALING & SOOTHING
Neem oil contains high levels of vitamin E and oleic acid (omega-9), a monounsaturated fatty acid that is extremely beneficial in treating eczema due to its moisturising, cell regenerating and anti-inflammatory properties. These fatty acids penetrate easily into the outer layers of the skin repairing the skin's protective barrier function. This prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL) which leads to dehydrated and damaged skin.
Oils high in vitamin E soothe itchy, irritated and inflamed skin caused by dermatitis. All of these ingredients facilitate wound healing, and minimizes scar development.
Thanks to an extremely powerful compound called quercetin, neem is loaded with antiviral, anti-fungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Helping those suffering from skin disorders like dermatitis, psoriasis, and also acne, by removing bacteria from the surface of the skin and preventing the further development of skin infections.
Quercetin also has antihistamine, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This flavonoid or plant pigment is found in colourful fruits like blueberries, tomatoes, apples, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. This compound alone supports the body's ability to respond to inflammation by inhibiting both the manufacture and release of histamines and other irritants.
An allergic reaction to any substance, be it pollen or detergents, can trigger an eczema breakout. However, neem oil (along with the extracts of other parts of the neem tree) is loaded with antihistamine properties. This means that it can inhibit these allergic reactions effectively.
Neem oil is a natural remedy for minor cuts, scrapes, stings and burns. Along with quercetin, whose many properties include pain relieve, neem oil has excellent analgesic properties.
DIY Eczema Cream Recipe
Coconut oil is another natural remedy for skin conditions like dermatitis. It has many protective antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that help to balance fungal and candida related skin issues. Coconut oil has a very unique fatty acid profile of Lauric, Capric and Caprylic Acids which are immunity superstars. One of the very few other places Lauric Acid is found is in breast milk.
Lavender, Tea Tree and Rosemary essential oils are all highly beneficial for eczema due to their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and healing properties.
You can substitute castor oil for any other oils that are high in Oleic Fatty Acid (Omega-9), like Apricot Kernel Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil, Sweet Almond Oil or Macadamia Nut Oil. Oleic acid is extremely healing and moisturizing for dry, sensitive skin.
If using on children, please check safe dilutions for babies and toddlers.
*Use a double boiler on low heat to melt the butters and coconut oil. Once melted take off the heat and mix in all the other oils. Pour into your glass jar and let it set in fridge.
*Use a 60ml glass jar*
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