Girl with dermatitis eczema

Dermatitis is one of the most common skin diseases in the world. The usual course of treatment is with corticosteroid and expensive topical creams. But research shows that there is a natural alternative for treatment of dermatitis available. And it is proven to be effective and less expensive than drugs. 

About a year ago I was diagnosed with a mild case of Atopic dermatitis (AD). When I asked my dermatologist how I got this skin condition she told me that nobody knows for sure. Doctors and researchers still don’t know why atopic dermatitis starts to develop. But it is very common she told me. She prescribed me a cream, a corticosteroid drug which should help me. When I started treatment I had dry flaky skin above my nose and around my eyebrows. It looked kind of nasty when I put makeup on it because then it seemed to be even flakier and looked like fish skin.

Best creams for dermatitis prescribed by doctors – Corticosteroids and expensive topical creams

I started treatment with the corticosteroid cream and it seemed to work fine. The doctor told me not to use this cream for more than 7 days. That made me kind of suspicious about this treatment. But I decided to try it because the dermatologist told me that was the best treatment option. Little did I know that AD is a very persistent skin condition that tends to come back and flare up even worse. And that’s exactly what happened to me. Only 2-3 days after stopping the corticosteroids the dry skin and redness reappeared. But worse this time and on an even bigger surface. Now I could see the dry red spots around my nose and cheeks as well.

I went back to the dermatologist and asked her what she could do about it. But all she could tell me is to try out different creams with no guarantee that any of them would work. I could also give the corticosteroid cream a second try after a month. Afterwards, I went to the pharmacy and looked at the creams the doctor prescribed me. I was dazzled by their price. These were pricey creams, one brand cost even more than 100 USD. I choose a cream with the help of the pharmacist although it came down to personal preference. There wasn’t one cream he could recommend to me to be better than another. AD could become a pricey problem if the cream didn’t show any improvement.

I started my treatment with a hypoallergenic creme based on oat extract. It should moisturize my skin but I found that my condition didn’t get better. The flakiness was a bit better but the redness of the skin was still there. The worst part was that the effect of the cream was very short. My skin stayed moist for about an hour or two after applying the cream. After that period, it started to show the dry skin flakes and red patches again. I couldn’t reapply this cream all the time. This is when I started to research about AD.

What are the most common causes of dermatitis

I found out that skin affected with AD is often colonized with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Although the exact cause for AD is not yet known the best treatments moisturize the skin and try to get rid of the bacteria. According to this review here are some new topical medications coming to the market. Including Janus kinase inhibitors, phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors, and benvitimod which seem to be promising treatments.

Effective natural home treatment for dermatitis

But I also found that a traditional ointment for skin infection seems to be very effective as well. Virgin coconut oil has shown very good results in the treatment of AD. A study compared the antibacterial and emollient effects of virgin coconut oil (VCO) and Virgin olive oil (VOO) in AD. Two groups of 26 people each were given VCO or VOO to apply on their skin for 4 weeks. Before treatment  20 patients were positive for Staphylococcus aureus colonies in the VCO group. 12 patients were positive for this bacteria in the group that used VOO. After treatment, only one patient tested positive for Staphylococcus aureus in the VCO group compared to 6 in the VOO group. The VCO also moisturized the skin more effectively than VOO. All patients treated with VCO experienced a significant improvement in their condition.

The positive effect of VCO on AD was also observed in a pediatric study. In this study, VCO was compared to the effects of mineral oil. Based on SCORAD (SCORing of Atopic Dermatitis) index and TEWL (transepidermal water loss) topical application of VCO  was superior to that of mineral oil.

The results of applying Coconut oil

Coconut oil for skin dermatitis in a jar

After reading the studies I decided that there is no reason I shouldn’t try VCO on my skin. Especially as virgin coconut oil is safe for use on the skin of adults. I bought a jar of organic virgin coconut oil and started to apply it twice a day over the red parts of the skin. Although coconut oil is greasy it is easy to apply on the skin. The skin absorbs it quite quickly without leaving any greasy streaks. You will smell like coconut a little bit but for me, that’s a plus.

After I started the treatment I noticed:

  • the itching ceased almost immediately.
  • After 1 week: the red spots and most of the flaky skin was gone.
    Also, one application in the morning was enough to keep the skin soft until the evening.
  • After 2 weeks: the skin felt much softer and was without dry patches.
  • After 4 weeks: I didn’t recognize any improvement on the skin anymore.

Virgin coconut oil is an effective treatment for dermatitis.

I can’t say that the condition has completely gone. But it has improved to the point that the skin isn’t itchy and red anymore. The dry spots around my nose and cheeks are gone. The only dry skin left is between my eyebrows. In fact, most people can’t even tell that I have a problem. I can wear make-up without the skin showing dry patches. The only downside is that I have to apply the VCO daily. As soon as I skip 2-3 days the red dry skin around my eyebrows starts to show again. But with less intensity than before the VCO treatment.

I can say that for me VCO was more effective in the treatment of AD than corticosteroid and expensive topical creams. As for anybody with this condition, I would suggest trying VCO. It can’t hurt you but can bring you relief as it did for me. For as long as researchers don’t figure out the cause of AD I believe VCO is an effective alternative to drugs for mild to moderate cases of AD.

A word of caution for babies

Atopic dermatitis is common among babies and young children. In a study, newborns were massaged with VCO. The fatty acids from the VCO leached into the bloodstream through the delicate baby skin. The babies showed a raised amount of saturated fats from the VCO in their blood. So please don’t use VCO with small babies. Although this effect doesn’t occur in older kids or adults it is best to consult your pediatrician for the treatment of AD with VCO in babies.