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If you’ve lived with eczema all your life, you know just how frustrating it can be. Many people turn to alternative treatments to help with their eczema, including homeopathy — a popular treatment that some people swear by.

Eczema is super common too. According to the National Eczema Association, 31.6 million people in the United States live with some form of eczema. That’s more than 10 percent of the population. But will they benefit from homeopathy as a natural replacement for conventional medicine?

Well, the trouble with homeopathy is that the research behind it is murky at best. Substituting alternative treatments for prescribed medicines can be seriously bad for your health.

So, does it actually work?

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So, what even is homeopathy?

Well, it’s based on the idea that “like cures like.” If a certain substance or chemical is making you sick, you can actually reverse the effects by introducing a small, diluted version of it.

This is what is known as the law of similars. Got arsenic poisoning? Just take some diluted arsenic andyou’ll (supposedly) be right as rain.

The most common homeopathic treatments for eczema include:

  • Arsenicum album. Yep, that’s arsenic. You know, that incredibly toxic poisonous chemical that you shouldn’t really put anywhere near your body…
  • Calcarea carbonica. This is calcium extracted from the middle layer of oyster shells.
  • Graphites. This is the stuff you find in pencils, basically.
  • Hepar sulphuris calcareum. Take that aforementioned oyster calcium and mix it with flowers of sulfur. Then, uh, torch ’em both. Voilá?
  • Mezereum. Also, known as daphne mezereum, it’s a common flowering shrub.

Do they actually work?

Wellllllll… Let’s have the research do the talking here.

In a small 2012 research review, there was no evidence to support homeopathy as a treatment for eczema.

A 2013 clinical trial with children also suggested that homeopathic treatments were no better than conventional treatments. (And, in the long run, they were even more expensive.)

There are also concerns that certain homeopathic treatments — particularly the use of arsenic, somewhat unsurprisingly — can cause clinical toxicity if misused.

Some studies out there support the use of homeopathy for various conditions. But according to this 2013 meta-analysis of 89 clinical trials, the trials in their research sample were so problematic that the researchers deemed it scientifically appropriate to disregard 90 percent of the trials. Consider that shade well and truly thrown.

Homeopathy is controversial, as it doesn’t always follow universally recognized scientific concepts. There are lots of tried and tested treatments for eczema that will probably work better.

Everyone has different triggers for their eczema. Knowing yours (and what to avoid) will help you manage flare-ups in the long term.

If you find yourself experiencing eczema, you don’t have to turn to homeopathy. There are loads of genuine natural remedies that have been proven to help relieve eczema symptoms.

Aloe vera gel

Everyone’s fave plant pal, aloe vera, has played a role in skin care for centuries due to its wholesome healing properties.

A research review found that aloe vera provided the following health benefits for humans:

Aloe vera gel is derived from the plant itself. You can buy it online or from your local health store.

Test a little patch of skin before going all-in, as some people are more sensitive than others. It’s generally safe for everyone to use though (even kids).

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is used in loads of skin products as it’s high in fatty acids that can help moisturize the skin. And really, who doesn’t want to smell like a tropical vacation in the Bahamas?

A clinical trial with children even showed that coconut oil improved symptoms of eczema after 8-weeks when compared with mineral oil.

You can get extra virgin coconut oil from the grocery store, health store, or online. It will turn to liquid when you apply it to your warm body.

Sunflower seed oil

Sunflower seed oil might help to kickstart your skin’s production of ceramide fats. These fats are natural moisturizers that hydrate your skin and strengthen its protection against invading, germy nasties. It might also help reduce how thick your skin gets after the relentless scratching that can accompany itchy eczema vibes.

If you go the sunflower seed oil route, apply caution, though – it’s not been studied for a long time and runs the risk of allergic sensitization.

Honey

Honey has been treating ailments for centuries.

A review of clinical research determined that honey can be useful for treating a variety of skin conditions, including burns and wounds. It packs an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory wallop. Welp, if it’s good enough for the cast of “Bee Movie,” it’s good enough for us.

There’s good reason to believe that honey might also help with eczema by preventing infection and moisturizing the skin.

Tea tree oil

Another oil that cameos in a bunch of skin care products is tea tree oil — all thanks to its antibacterial qualities.

A 2012 research review confirmed this, showing its bacteria-busting, anti-inflammatory, and wondrous wound-healing properties.

If you’re using the essential oil in its pure form, you’ll need to dilute it with a carrier oil like olive oil before applying it to your skin.

While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

In 2009, the World Health Organization issued a warning against the use of homeopathic treatments for serious illnesses.

When it comes to homeopathy, it’s best to think of it as a complementary treatment. This means you shouldn’t use it in place of proper medical treatments.

Yes, this includes homeopathic immunizations, where certain homeopathic products are said to be credible substitutes for vaccines (they’re absolutely not, FYI).

There isn’t a drop of good scientific evidence to support this. Not a smidge.

Look, if you’ve tried homeopathy and it makes you feel better, then great! As long as you’re not relying on it solely to fix your ailments, that’s A-OK. But if you’re giving homeopathic treatment a go for any underlying condition, take it to your doctor or healthcare professional so you can talk it out.

Homeopathy is a popular alternative treatment for eczema, but it’s unlikely to actually make your condition any better.

As a complementary treatment, you shouldn’t be using it as a replacement for any doc-prescribed medicine or treatment. But homeopathy can play a role alongside these treatments, especially if it makes you feel good.