Turmeric for skin rashes

Contents

5 Side-Effects of Turmeric (Haldi): How Much Is Too Much?

Turmeric or haldi is an ancient root that has long been known for its medicinal and healing properties. The warm and bitter taste of the spice adds a unique flavor to your curries and is a common condiment in an Indian kitchen. The active ingredient in turmeric called curcumin is known to be a healthy compound that makes this spice a desi superfood. According to the book Healing Foods by DK Publishing, curcumin in haldi is a well-researched antioxidant and powerful anti-inflammatory that helps to fight disease-causing free radicals. However, as it is rightly advised, excess of anything can be bad and can take a toll on your health. There are some side effects of turmeric that you must be aware of.

How much turmeric (haldi) per day should you consume?

It is usually recommended to have about a teaspoon a day which is considered to be safe. Anything in excess may trigger certain reactions. According to Consultant Nutritionist Dr. Rupali Dutta, “Although consuming turmeric or haldi in its natural form promotes health, but excess of it can cause an upset stomach, nausea and dizziness. Especially, if you take turmeric capsules or supplements in high amounts, it can prove to be detrimental to your health. I would recommend take turmeric in its natural form in a moderate quantities to attain its health benefits.”
It is usually recommended to have about a teaspoon a day of haldi or turmericWhile the positive aspects of turmeric may outweigh the side effects, it is important to know that a natural healer like turmeric may cause certain health problems in the body. Here are five side effects of turmeric worth knowing.
1. Upset stomach
Turmeric or haldi is known to heat your body and cause inflammation in your stomach that may lead to abdominal pain and cramps.
2. Risk of developing kidney stones
Turmeric contains oxalates that may increase the risk of developing kidney stones. These oxalates bind the calcium to form insoluble calcium oxalate that is a primary cause of kidney stones.
Turmeric contains oxalates that may increase the risk of developing kidney stones
3. May cause nausea and diarrhea
Curcumin, the active compound found in turmeric, has a tendency to trouble the gastrointestinal tract, which causes diarrhea and nausea with excess consumption.
4. May cause an allergic reaction
You may be allergic to certain compounds present in turmeric which can cause rashes, outbreaks and even shortness of breath. Allergic reactions can occur from both ingestion and skin contact.
You may be allergic to certain compounds present in turmeric which can cause rashes
5. Iron deficiency
Excess turmeric consumption may inhibit the absorption of iron. Therefore, people with iron deficiency should be careful not add too much turmeric in their daily meals, as it could decrease the body’s ability to absorb iron.
CommentsStick to the rule of moderation to avoid these side effects of turmeric and enjoy its benefits.

Can Turmeric Help Fight Eczema?

Although there is limited research on turmeric and eczema, some people may still choose to use it.

Turmeric is generally recognized as safe to consume by the Food and Drug Administration. However, it may also be used topically and intravenously (8).

Food and supplements

There is extensive research on the health effects of consuming turmeric.

It’s generally recognized as safe, and curcumin has been shown to have no adverse health effects in healthy people when taken in doses of up to 12,000 mg per day (9).

Still, keep in mind that the curcumin in turmeric has low bioavailability. Therefore, consuming ground turmeric may not provide a therapeutic dose (9, 10).

While some studies report finding little to no curcumin in the bloodstream after ingestion, especially in doses below 4,000 mg, curcumin may still provide beneficial effects (10, 11).

Another study detected curcumin in the blood more easily by using an alternate testing method (12).

Adding black pepper to turmeric dishes and supplements may help as well, as this spice contains a compound known as piperine, which can increase the absorption of curcumin. Still, it’s unknown how much curcumin might reach your skin (9, 10).

Dietary fats, water-soluble carriers, volatile oils, and antioxidants may also enhance the absorption of curcumin, according to some research (12).

Finally, the side effects of excessive turmeric intake may include skin rash, headache, nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach, and yellow stools (11).

Topical application

Due to turmeric’s popularity, many cosmetic companies use it as an ingredient in their products.

In studies on other skin conditions, topically applying turmeric-containing products allows for adequate absorption of curcumin (4, 9).

However, these products are specifically formulated for enhanced absorption, and applying pure turmeric to your skin will not have the same effects (4, 9).

Moreover, the spice contains a strong yellow pigment shown to stain the skin, which most people likely find undesirable (4).

Although more research is needed, topical products containing the spice’s active ingredients appear to be safe for use. Speak to a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

Intravenous

Due to turmeric’s low bioavailability, there is an increasingly popular trend among natural healthcare professionals to provide it intravenously.

By bypassing digestion, the curcumin from the turmeric spice enters the blood supply more easily, providing a substantially higher dosage (13).

However, there is little research in this area, and major complications have been observed. In fact, a 2018 report found that intravenous turmeric for the treatment of eczema caused the death of a 31-year-old woman (14).

Even with small doses, this type of intravenous treatment may cause unwanted side effects, such as headache, nausea, upset stomach, constipation, and diarrhea (15).

Safety in children

Given eczema’s prevalence among children, many adults are looking for safe, natural remedies for their children.

The use of ground turmeric in food is generally recognized as safe for both adults and children (8).

However, there have been reports of lead poisoning from ground turmeric and supplements due to lead chromate, which is added to enhance the yellow color. This is most commonly associated with turmeric sourced from India and Bangladesh (16).

Furthermore, supplementing with this spice is usually studied in adults, so it’s unknown whether it’s safe for children.

Finally, it’s best to speak with a dermatologist or other healthcare professional before trying turmeric products for the treatment of eczema.

summary

Ground, supplemental, and topical turmeric are generally recognized as safe. However, intravenous treatment with the spice has been associated with serious side effects and death and should be avoided.

Eczema refers to a medical condition characterized by inflammation and irritation of skin. Atopic eczema and atopic dermatitis are the common forms of eczema. While eczema is often hereditary, various factors can also trigger it, such as allergies, environmental irritants, sweating, and emotional stress. Eczema outbreaks can be chronic or acute.

Eczema is termed as Vicharchika in Ayurveda. It is said that the imbalance of all the three doshas namely vata, pitta and kapha cause eczema. According to Ayurveda, turmeric helps treat Vicharchika or eczema effectively.

HOW DOES TURMERIC HELP?

A yellow pigment known as Curcumin present in Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and is an excellent remedy to inhibit the release and production of leukotrienes and other mediators that are inflammatory and helps in removing the toxins from the body that cause eczema and other skin disorders.

Here are some ways to use turmeric for treating eczema:

TURMERIC+COCONUT OIL

You need 1 teaspoon turmeric and 1 ½ teaspoon liquid coconut oil. Combine the ingredients and make a smooth paste. Apply coconut oil-turmeric paste directly on the affected skin several times a day to get instant relief from itching or mild pain. Continue for as many days as needed until the symptoms are gone completely.

TURMERIC WATER

You can add one-half teaspoon of turmeric to one cup of boiling water and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Allow it to cool. You can drink it or use it to wash the affected area.

TURMERIC+MILK

Mix one-half teaspoon of turmeric with enough milk to make a paste. Apply this paste on the affected skin twice daily until the redness and itchiness is gone.

TURMERIC+ALOE VERA

Extract the gel from a fresh aloe leaf. You can also add a few drops of vitamin E oil in the aloe gel. Combine the aloe and vitamin E mixture with 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder. Apply the paste directly on the affected skin. Allow it to dry on its own, and then rinse it off with warm water. Use this simple treatment twice daily for several weeks.

TURMERIC+NEEM

Make a paste using 1 Tbs of grounded neem leaves paste and 1Tbs of turmeric powder. Apply this paste at the affected portion. The antibacterial action of both turmeric and neem leaves relieves rashes.

TURMERIC PASTE

To use turmeric in the treatment of eczema, add some turmeric powder to water until it forms a thick paste. Apply this paste to your skin and leave it on for a few hours. This helps in decreasing inflammation and irritation associated with eczema.

TURMERIC NUTMEG CREAM

Grate one nutmeg and use one teaspoon of this powder in preparing nutmeg cream. Add this powder to 10 ml olive oil till it forms a thick paste. Now add 1 ½ teaspoon turmeric powder to it. Apply this paste to your skin and leave it there for 10-12 minutes. You can wash this cream off with warm or cold water. The leftover cream can be stored for 3-4 days.

Turmeric Skin Care Benefits: Acne Scars, Eczema, Psoriasis & Wrinkles

Throughout history, the Curcuma longa plant served as a powerful healing herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Our ancestors long believed turmeric, extracted from the plant’s roots, was the foundation for its medicinal properties.

Turmeric has a wide variety of applications and health benefits derived from its curcuminoid content. It may be the most well-studied antioxidant in modern science. But, can turmeric benefit skin conditions such as acne scars, eczema, psoriasis, and wrinkles?

Turmeric for Skin Care

Researchers have demonstrated numerous potential for turmeric, a spice best known for its ability to treat arthritis pain and a wide variety of other ailments. In recent years, studies have confirmed that curcumin can also help stabilize diabetes, lower cholesterol, and even reduce hypertension.

Now, studies suggest that turmeric for skin care is a real possibility. Trials have emerged, pointing to various topical solutions, as having the potential to treat a variety of skin conditions. Therefore, turmeric masks, powders, pastes, and even oral supplements may lead to healthier skin. (1)

Before we get into the studies, let’s discuss the skin and these conditions in a bit more detail.

Types of Skin Conditions

Our skin is the exterior protective layer of our body. It keeps us safe from dangerous microbes, helps regulate body temperature, and permits various sensations (heat, cold, touch, etc.).

There are three layers of the skin. They are:

  • Epidermis: This layer is the outermost part of our skin, creating a waterproof barrier, and generating our pigmentation (skin tone).
  • Dermis: The dermis is the layer directly beneath the epidermis, and contains hair follicles, connective tissue (collagen and elastin), and sweat glands.
  • Hypodermis: This deeper subcutaneous tissue is comprised of loose connective tissue and fat, and helps conserve heat and protect internal organs.

Understanding the skin layers is critical for treating various skin conditions. When considering adding turmeric into your skin care regimen, here are the most frequent usage scenarios:

  • Acne: The most common skin disorder affecting 85-90% of the population. Hair follicles become plugged with dead skin cells and oil (clogged pores), causing an outbreak of pimples or blackheads. Chronic acne can lead to scarring. Acne often stems from obesity, hormonal fluctuations, or anxiety and depression.
  • Eczema: Heightened skin inflammation, also known as atopic dermatitis, that causes an uncomfortable, itchy rash. Often stems from an overactive immune system’s inflammatory response.
  • Psoriasis: An autoimmune disease (highly proliferative and inflammatory) characterized by the rapid multiplying of skin cells leading to bumpy red patches with white scales. If left unmanaged, it may worsen and lead to Crohn’s disease, cardiovascular disease, COPD, lymphoma, metabolic syndrome, and other severe conditions.
  • Wrinkles & Anti-aging: A simple byproduct of aging. Wrinkles originate in the dermis and hypodermis layers of the skin from the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers.

While there are many other skin conditions, these are the ones that turmeric is most apt to handle. (2, 3, 4)

Why Turmeric Curcumin?

We know that turmeric can reduce inflammation and improve antioxidant capacity in the body. These properties make curcumin excellent for overall health.

The thought is, since various skin problems develop with excessive inflammation, turmeric may be able to help. Also, it’s well-known that free radicals can damage the skin and contribute to acne breakouts. Thus, curcumin’s antioxidant activity may further benefit healthy skin. (5)

Turmeric Skin Benefits: Acne Scars, Eczema, Psoriasis & Wrinkles

Now, let’s cover the research and science surrounding turmeric’s ability to enhance your skin. More specifically, we’ll analyze the available studies surrounding acne, eczema, psoriasis, and wrinkles.

Acne Scars

The first study we’ll look at examined the ability of topical curcumin to heal damaged tissue in a group of wounded rats. Researchers sought to uncover turmeric’s role in changing collagen characteristics and antioxidant activity while restoring skin integrity.

While reviewing the data, researchers noted increased DNA, total protein, and type 3 collagen in the damaged area. Curcumin had successfully amplified collagen synthesis and cellular proliferation at the excision site during the healing process.

Wounds treated with curcumin healed much faster due to its antioxidant properties and ability to improve collagen synthesis. This result gives hope that topical turmeric, in the form of facial masks or pastes, may diminish the appearance of acne scars and prevent further breakouts. (6)

Additional studies have confirmed a similar story—curcumin treatment can significantly reduce wound healing time through several mechanisms of action.

  • Shields the skin by reducing free radical damage
  • Reduces the body’s inflammatory response
  • Improves collagen deposition
  • Increases fibroblast (cells that synthesize connective tissue) and vascular density
  • Induces growth factor-beta, angiogenesis, and accumulation of extracellular matrix, all vital processes in tissue repair

These mechanisms indicate that turmeric may benefit the healing of acne scars while contributing to overall healthier skin. Curcumin may also reduce the frequency of pimples, blackheads, and other unwanted forms of acne. (7)

Psoriasis & Eczema

Further research examined topical turmeric on the management of plaque psoriasis. The study contained 40 human subjects, both male and female, between 18 and 60 years of age.

The trial was a placebo-controlled, double-blind 9-week pilot study with topical turmeric microemulgel applied twice daily for the duration of the study. Following the treatment period, all of the psoriasis patients who used turmeric experienced moderate improvements in their symptoms.

Some of the individuals even experienced resolution of their psoriatic lesions. This result is impressive, considering the mean disease duration of the subjects (how long they’ve had a clinical diagnosis of psoriasis) was 11.5 years. (8)

Other trials noted several mechanisms of action possessed by curcumin in eczema and psoriasis treatment.

  • Antioxidant properties that reduce oxidative stress in lesions
  • Inhibits phosphorylase kinases, an enzyme increased in psoriatic patients
  • Inhibits psoriatic proliferation by down-regulating pro-inflammatory cytokines
  • Significantly enhances overall skin health (9)

Another study using a mouse model examined curcumin’s therapeutic effects on psoriasis. The trial assessed oral curcumin’s inhibitory action on the inflammatory factors responsible for psoriasis development.

Results indicated that curcumin inhibited 50% of T cells proliferation, a significant contributor to the advancing of psoriasis. There was also a substantial reduction in severe psoriatic symptoms.

Researchers found no adverse side effects in the treated mice, indicating that turmeric may be a safe and effective means to treat inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. (10)

Our last study in this section used a group of 85 human subjects to assess turmeric’s ability to reduce plaque psoriasis symptomology. The patients consumed two tablets, twice per day, each containing 100 mg of curcumin for a total of 400 mg of active curcuminoids.

Much like our previous study, those treated with the turmeric capsules experienced down-regulated T cell-induced inflammation. Thus, curcumin may help suppress one of the major inflammatory mechanisms of psoriasis and eczema. (11)

Wrinkles and Anti-aging

One trial assessed the ability of turmeric to prevent chronic ultraviolet B (UVB)-induced skin aging in hairless mice. The study measured skin elasticity, thickness, wrinkling, and pigmentation changes caused by long-term UVB exposure.

The results showed that turmeric administration successfully prevented the skin from thickening and also preserved the skin’s elasticity. Furthermore, researchers noticed that turmeric prevented wrinkle formation in the treated mice.

This conclusion suggests that turmeric may have a visual anti-aging effect on the skin. (12)

Final Thoughts on Turmeric for Healthier Skin

Are there any turmeric benefits for skin care? The answer is a definite, yes. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties contribute significantly to healthier skin. These results appear while using both topical solutions and oral curcumin supplementation.

Turmeric may reduce the appearance of acne scars, limit breakouts, prevent wrinkles and visual signs of aging, and even treat inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

While there aren’t currently any studies focusing exclusively on eczema, turmeric’s ability to reduce inflammation demonstrates treatment potential at a variety of dosages. (13)

If you’re considering adding a turmeric and black pepper supplement to your skin care regimen, you should always consult with a certified medical professional, first.

Can Turmeric Help Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis?

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a golden yellow spice that packs bold flavor. It’s an essential ingredient in classic Indian curry dishes, as well as a powerful anti-inflammatory with a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine, according to a review.

You may also know turmeric as curcumin, but curcumin is only one active compound in turmeric — albeit a very important one. In fact, many of turmeric’s anti-inflammatory benefits trace back to curcumin.

Traditionally, folks have used turmeric in hopes of treating arthritis, indigestion, and excessive gas, along with boosting energy, according to Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. Today, some people have turned to oral and topical turmeric treatments to manage the symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and atopic dermatitis.

Note that while many people use the terms “eczema” and “atopic dermatitis” interchangeably, eczema is the name for a group of skin conditions that cause red, itchy, inflamed skin.

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Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, and it often appears in the form of a red, itchy rash on the arms, legs, and cheeks, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Other types of eczema have different symptoms.

Unfortunately, atopic dermatitis is chronic and requires constant management, as certain triggers — like stress, chemical irritants (like laundry detergent), allergens, and sweat — can cause symptoms to temporarily worsen (also known as flares or flare-ups), according to the National Eczema Association.

Though there’s no cure for eczema, you can manage this skin condition by using a variety of approaches. Turmeric may make a helpful complementary treatment, early studies suggest.

The Effects of Turmeric on Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis

Turmeric contains anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, making it an appealing treatment option for a variety of skin conditions, including eczema and atopic dermatitis.

As eczema and atopic dermatitis are inflammatory skin conditions, any compound that can help lower inflammation would be theoretically beneficial for easing redness and irritation. Substances with antimicrobial properties may help prevent the growth of skin bacteria or fungi in people with eczema and atopic dermatitis, whose skin often breaks during flare-ups and may be susceptible to more irritation and damage.

Meanwhile, antioxidants protect your body against damage caused by free radicals, which are often found in environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke. When there’s an imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals in the body, a condition known as oxidative stress may follow, leading the free radicals to alter lipids, proteins, and DNA, according to a review in Pharmacognosy Review. Over time, diseases like cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease may develop.

Unfortunately, people with atopic dermatitis are more prone to damage from free radicals than people without this skin condition are, according to a study published in December 2013 in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research. Thus, it’s especially important for people in this group to ensure they’re getting adequate antioxidants.

Typically, when people use turmeric for specific health benefits, they turn to turmeric supplements. Ground turmeric (the kind you use in cooking) doesn’t absorb well into the bloodstream, according to a review published in October 2017 in Foods. Turmeric supplements can provide the higher doses needed to see the benefits found in research studies.

For example, a supplement with 0.5 grams (g) of turmeric extract provides roughly 400 milligrams (mg) of curcuminoids (curcumin is one form of curcuminoid), while an equal portion of the ground spice provides only 15 mg of curcuminoids, according to the third-party supplement testing agency ConsumerLab. Research studies often use higher doses, which can range between 100 to 2,000 mg of turmeric and curcumin per day, according to a review published in August 2016 in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

As a skin-care treatment, turmeric may also be used topically in the form of creams and serums. Traditionally in India, turmeric was applied to the skin to make it glow, according to Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. Today, turmeric has been added to skin-care products to accomplish this, as well as treat a variety of skin concerns. Sunday Riley CEO Glow Vitamin C + Turmeric Face Oil, for example, claims to add luminosity to the skin, thanks largely to an oil-soluble form of vitamin C and distilled turmeric oil. Meanwhile, the Cocokind Turmeric Spot Treatment looks like a lip balm but is meant to be applied to the skin to unclog pores, fight inflammation, and fade dark spots. It also contains ginger and tea tree oil.

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As a treatment for anti-inflammatory conditions in general, turmeric may be useful, studies suggest. For example, it may play a role in treating arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes, according to the review in Foods. In fact, an earlier study found that it may be more effective than common anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and aspirin. Yet the effectiveness of oral and topical turmeric applications on treating inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and atopic dermatitis needs more research.

“ has not been extensively studied,” says New York City–based Samer Jaber, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, member of the American Academy of Dermatology, and founder of Washington Square Dermatology. And the studies that do exist aren’t very conclusive — or necessarily specific to atopic dermatitis.

For example, a review published in January 2018 in the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences revealed that oral curcumin may be an effective and safe treatment option for another chronic inflammatory skin condition: psoriasis. But the authors note that more studies are needed before curcumin can be recommended as a valid treatment option.

Meanwhile, a review published in August 2016 in Phytotherapy Research found that 10 out of 18 studies reported that oral or topical turmeric and curcumin treatments led to significant improvements in people with a variety of skin diseases. Ultimately, though, the authors concluded that while oral and topical turmeric and curcumin supplements showed some promise in treating skin conditions, more studies are needed to confirm their benefits.

And according to a review published in October 2013 in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, topical use of turmeric and curcumin is limited by the spice’s bright color, poor solubility, and poor stability at a high pH.

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The Importance of Talking to Your Doctor Before Trying Turmeric

As research on turmeric and eczema and atopic dermatitis is limited, you may want to avoid turmeric treatments, especially topical turmeric treatments. “I do recommend a diet high in natural foods and antioxidants but not for these things to be applied directly to the skin,” says Lauren Ploch, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Augusta, Georgia.

“People with atopic dermatitis have a weakened skin barrier,” Dr. Ploch continues. “A weak skin barrier allows substances that are applied to the skin to be absorbed more easily.” This also means the effects of any substances are magnified in people with eczema and atopic dermatitis, making them more likely to experience redness and irritation from things like topical turmeric treatments, she adds.

If you’re still interested in exploring oral or topical turmeric treatments as an option for managing your skin condition, talk with your dermatologist, allergist, or other healthcare provider first.

For more information on eczema and atopic dermatitis, visit the American Academy of Dermatology.

Beauty

ALSO READ: Why you need to eat spicy food everyday

A healthy and vibrant skin is always the dream of everyone. Even men deep down wish to have a glowing skin. Amongst so many useful benefits/impacts of Turmeric, this arguably the most powerful spice is known for brightening your skin.

Turmeric is probably the most important spice in Indian dishes. And possibly, the most powerful herb on the planet.

In fact, it is one of the most studied herbs in science.

It is reported that One ounce of turmeric gives you 26% of your daily requirement of manganese and 16% of your daily requirement of iron. The herb is also a wonderful source of fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, and vitamin C.

The following are some of the benefits of Turmeric on your skin:

1. Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

ALSO READ: Experimenting with oils led me to business in skincare

Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits, turmeric can work wonders on condition-riddled skin. It can also help reduce redness from blemishes and calm skin conditions like eczema and rosacea.

2. Fight off acne

Turmeric is excellent for acne because it is a natural antiseptic and helps to keep bacteria from spreading. It’s especially effective when combined with apple cider vinegar which has astringent properties, meaning it plays the same role as your average toner.

3. Reduces dark circles

“Since turmeric is a proven anti-inflammatory and lightening agent, it’s perfect for alleviating this kind of concern,” says Courtney Chiusano, founder of Courtney Chiusano Skincare in Los Angeles, California. “It also stimulates circulation, which can help reduce puffiness and under-eye darkness caused by poor circulation.”

4. Protect against sun damage & aging

Research presented at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) 68th Annual Meeting shows that a moisturizing cream containing turmeric had the ability to improve the appearance of fine lines and brown spots caused by sun damage.

It also helps prevent loss of skin elasticity due to long term UV exposure.

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5. Reduce appearance of stretch marks

Turmeric has the antioxidative power to penetrate and improve the function of the skin membrane cells, which will help prevent and treat stretch marks. Experts recommend making your own stretch mark-healing paste with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, one teaspoon of turmeric and a squeeze of a wedge of a lemon (about one-eighth of the fruit). Rub this mixture onto the affected areas twice a day.

6. Soothe dry skin

Turmeric can deeply hydrate and revitalize skin while alleviating symptoms of dryness. It naturally speeds up the process of removing dead skin cells to reveal healthy and soft skin, and protects the skin cells from further damage.

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The term ‘eczema’ is derived from a Greek word meaning ‘to boil.’ It refers to an inflammation of the skin. It is essentially a constitutional disease, resulting from a toxic condition of the system due to wrong food habits.

Eczema is a very common skin disease of children. If the baby develops eczema at the very early age of two or three months, there is often a family history of eczema or asthma. However, if a young baby does have eczema, it does not necessarily mean that he will suffer from this irritating skin condition all his life. Many children outgrow infantile eczema by the time they are around three years old.

Symptoms The main symptom of eczema is itching. In its acute form, it is marked by redness and swelling of the skin, the formation of minute vesicles and severe heat. If the vesicles rupture, a raw, moist surface is formed. From this, a colourless discharge oozes, which forms skin cruts when it accumulates. The skin itches at all stages. In the wet stage, it may become infected with bacteria, and scratching in response to the irritation, spreads the infection. The most common sites of eczema in children are elbow and knee creases and behind the ears, but cheeks and chest can also be affected.

In chronic eczema, the skin becomes thick, and the skin surface marking is more prominent. Other changes in the skin which may accompany eczema include scratch marks and secondary bacterial infection. Prolonged scratching and rubbing the skin tends to polish finger-nails.

Causes

Allegies play an important role in causing eczema in children. It is seen that the disease is more frequent in bottle-fed babies than breast-fed babies. It has therefore been suggested that the cow’s milk could be a cause for infection in a particular baby. If this is the case, a change to either goat’s milk will bring about a substantial improvement. The most common triggers for sensitive children are eggs, peanuts, chocolate, wheat, chicken, and potato, besides cow’s milk.

Treatment

Skin applications to cure eczema may give temporary relief, but if the exudation is suppressed, some other more serious disease of childhood may develop. The best way to deal with this disease is to cleanse the blood stream and the body.

In case of small babies, mild cases of eczema can be treated by placing them on an orange juice and water for a day or so. Olive oil may be applied to the dry, scaly patches. This will be sufficient to keep the rash under control.

The other very important aspect of treatment of eczema in babies is to prevent them from scratching the rashes. This can be done by cutting short finger nails and by applying cotton mitts to cover the hands when they are sleeping. This will reduce scratching to the minimum.

In case of young children, the child should be placed on an all- fruit diet for two or three days. During this period, he should take fresh juicy fruits such as apple, orange, papaya, pineapple, pear, peach and pomegranate. This will help eliminate morbid matter from the body and lead to substantial improvement. A warm water anema may be administered during this period to cleanse the bowels, if possible.

Fruits, salt-free, raw or steamed vegetables along with whole wheat chappatis may be taken after the all-fruit diet. After a few days, curd and milk may be added to the diet. The child-patient may thereafter gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet, according to his age. The emphasis should be on seeds, nuts and grains, vegetables and fruit. This diet may be supplemented with vegetable oils, honey and yeast.

The child -patient should avoid tea, coffee and all condiments and highly flavoured dishes, as well as sugar, white flour products, denatured cereals and tinned or bottled foods.

Certain home remedies have been found beneficial in the treatment of eczema. One of the most effective of these remedies is musk melon (kharbuza). In fact, an exclusive diet of melons for a few days can be adopted by older children which has beneficial results. Only sweet and fresh fruits of the best variety should be used for this purpose. The juice of the fruit is also beneficial as a lotion in chronic and acute cases of eczema.

Raw vegetable juics, especially carrot juice in combination with spinach juice, have proved beneficial in the treatment of eczema. The formula proportions considered helpful in this combination are carrot 150 ml.and spinach 100 ml. to make 250 ml. of combined juice.

The green leaves of finger miller (ragi) are valuable in chronic eczema. The fresh juice of these leaves should be applied over the affected areas in the tretment of this condition.

Use of black strap molasses (sheera) has been found beneficial in the treatment of this disease. This is presumably due to its high nutritive properties. One tablespoon of molasses mixed in half a glass of milk should be taken twice daily by grown-up children. Improvements will be noticeable within two weeks time.

Certain liquids have been found useful as washing lotions for cleaning the affected parts. These include water in which margosa (neem) leaves have been boiled, rice starch obtained by decanting cooked rice and turmeric (haldi) water prepared by boiling water to which a little turmeric powder has been added.

The child should get as much fresh air as possible. He should drink plenty of wter and bathe twice daily. The skin with the exception of part affected with eczema, should be vigorously rubbed with the palms before taking a bath.

Coconut oil may be applied to the portions with eczema. It will help the skin to stay soft. Sunbathing is also beneficial as it kills the harmful bacetria and should be resorted to early in the morning, in the first light of dawn. A light mudpack applied over the sites of the eczema is also helpful. The pack should be applied for half an hour twice daily.

Why Seek Alternative Treatments for Atopic Dermatitis?

There seem to be three major reasons why patients seek alternative medicine for atopic dermatitis. First, we simply don’t yet have a cure for this disease. Second, we can’t yet clearly explain why this disease occurs. While doctors try hard to describe factors that play a role in atopic dermatitis, such as cytokines and inflammatory cells, we still can’t pinpoint the root of the disease. Third, the outcomes of conventional atopic dermatitis treatments are not always consistent, and sometimes they are perceived as being unsafe.
Those perceived risks can be real (as with long-term use of powerful immunosuppressive medicines) or magnified (as when patients are reluctant to use topical corticosteroids or topical calcineurin inhibitors, due in part to black box warnings containing scary words like “cancer”). We are also amid a movement against preservatives and other chemicals found in the environment—and we wonder whether we should be putting these ingredients on our skin. All of the warnings, whether perceived or real, create lots of landmines to negotiate around when prescribing treatments to patients.

A beautiful figure from a paper last year called “The Listing Tree of Science” really struck a chord with me.
It illustrates atopic dermatitis research, and it shows a terrible imbalance. One side of the tree depicting basic science research is lush, showing knowledge in areas such as cytokines, neuropeptides, ceramides, IgE, mast cells and eosinophils. The other side of the tree, representing clinically-relevant understanding, is sparse, showing just a couple of little rootlets. I’d say we know even less about alternative treatments, so little is being done.

We still have a lot of big questions to answer about atopic dermatitis—like how common it is, what causes it, and whether it can be prevented. It seems that people are more likely to turn to alternative medicine when we don’t have the answers to big questions like these.

My hope for atopic dermatitis is that the conversation about alternative treatments will become useless one day because we will have safe and effective medicines and there will be no need to seek alternative options. But until we find a cure, doctors and patients need to work to find the best treatments—and to understand and mitigate the risks and perceived risks associated with different medicines.

What Exactly is “Alternative Medicine”?

Alternative treatments can have a wide reach. Studies show that about 50 percent of the time, patients have used or considered using alternative medicine. Those who don’t think of using alternative treatments themselves are often introduced to the idea by someone in their lives—a neighbor or relative perhaps—who tells them, “You’ve got to try this thing I saw on TV (or online)!”

The label “alternative medicine” has become a catch-all that includes everything from Traditional Chinese Medicine to an item that sells for $19.95 and is marketed as a magical eczema cure.

In general, we can define alternative medicine as treatments for which we don’t have enough evidence to specify whether they will work in an intended way. Some alternative treatments are those that people talk about and use—even though they have been found not to work in studies.

One such treatment is homeopathy. I have a lot of patients who swear by it and love it—and in one way or another, it has certainly helped some people. But when you look at all the data from studies, it doesn’t seem to work in a consistent, reliable way to pass muster.

Other treatments are categorized as alternative by the medical community because they haven’t yet completed enough tests to know whether their use will provide an intended outcome.

The key to making sense of the alternative treatment category is to narrow the scope to treatments that are backed by at least some evidence, are generally thought to be safe, and are practical (the treatment should not be more difficult than the disease, because part of our job as doctors and researchers, is to give people their life back).

A practical way to look at alternative approaches is to think about ways to use nature to support, enhance, augment, and heal the patient. We use these terms in alternative medicine in place of more aggressive terms like “attack,” “cut out,” and “strike down,” and I think they can have a positive psychological effect on both the patient and doctor when approaching a disease with no known cure.

While we try to work with nature, we have to remind ourselves that natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe. After all, poison ivy, arsenic, and bacteria are all natural things, but we don’t want them on our skin. We also have to be aware that people tend to “greenwash” things; they throw the concept of “natural” around even when it doesn’t fit, or isn’t entirely honest.

It’s a slippery slope; things can quickly go from natural to unnatural. Turmeric, for example, is an amazing herb with anti-inflammatory properties. But is it really natural to take 10 pills of turmeric a day—especially if the source of that pill is a manufacturing plant in New Jersey?

Finally, it’s helpful to remember that even though some emerging natural treatments show promise, discussions of their benefit is speculative in the grand scheme of things. Alternative treatments are generally supported by some — but not overwhelming — evidence. Just like drugs that have been approved by the FDA, natural treatments may have hidden side effects that may not be exposed for years to come. These considerations can help a person keep perspective when considering alternative remedies.

Natural treatments for eczema with promise

Sunflower seed oil

Ceramides are skin barrier bolstering fats that are naturally produced in our bodies. Many cosmetic companies enhance their moisturizers with ceramides as a way to replenish the level of these fats via topical absorption. Sunflower seed oil can stimulate our bodies’ natural ceramide production internally, which, in turn, can help improve the skin barrier. The natural oil also serves as an anti-inflammatory, which can be beneficial for patients suffering from the inflammation of eczema.

A few small studies have looked at how we harness the power of nature to help improve inflamed skin. One study examined sunflower oil distillate. Researchers fractionated the oil and found that patients who used the sunflower oil along with a topical steroid for three weeks had significantly less lichenification (skin that becomes thick and rough from rubbing and scratching). Presumably, this meant they were less itchy, because they weren’t scratching as much. While more studies are needed, this small trial demonstrated a beneficial outcome for a treatment that is safe for many patients to try.

How safe is it? Because we often don’t have large numbers of eczema patients for studies in alternative medicine, we look to indirectly related studies to connect the dots. To explore the safety of sunflower seed oil, we reviewed a study of premature babies with poor barrier function (similar in some ways to that of eczema patients). These babies also lived in a place that put them at high risk for getting a blood infection, sepsis, and dying. The babies were given sunflower seed oil topically three times a day and had a 41 percent reduction of bacterial infection in the blood and a 26 percent reduction in death when compared to other babies who did not have the oil applied.

The study suggests that sunflower seed oil could enhance skin-barrier function and help heal the skin, thus protecting it from bacterial invasion. Since the study subjects were babies who have more absorbent skin than adults and they did fine, it strongly suggests that sunflower seed oil is safe for skin. As a result, I’ve incorporated the use of sunflower seed oil into some of my patients’ skin care regimens. I recommend that patients apply the lightweight oil when the skin is still wet.

Coconut oil

Another fascinating natural ingredient that has become popular for skin and hair care is coconut oil. One study with atopic dermatitis patients showed staph bacteria on the skin decreased by 95 percent after coconut oil was applied to the skin (as compared to a reduction of about 50 percent in patients who applied olive oil instead).

This is astounding considering that most patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis have skin that’s colonized with staph bacteria—even if they don’t have an infection. This treatment is safe for most people and is frequently used in other countries.

One caveat to consider when thinking about incorporating food-based products into a treatment routine is the development of allergies; we know that putting food proteins onto open skin can increase the risk of a person becoming allergic to that food. Fortunately, I haven’t seen this happen with coconut oil or sunflower seed oil. As long as a patient is not allergic, these oils seem to be a good thing. I suggest mixing a little bit of sunflower seed oil and coconut oil into a moisturizer before applying them to the skin.

Massage

We know stress plays a huge role in atopic dermatitis; when patients of all ages are stressed out, they get itchy and experience flare-ups. So it makes sense that a stress reliever like massage could help atopic dermatitis sufferers.

In one study, a massage therapist taught the parents of 20 atopic dermatitis patients, ages two to eight, how to give a massage to their children. Parents then gave their children a massage for 20 minutes a day. At the one-month mark, when the children’s skin was compared to that of children with atopic dermatitis who did not receive massage, researchers found a significant improvement in all critical measures of eczema. Researchers also found that the kids and parents in the massage group showed less signs of anxiety.

For parents of younger children with eczema, the massage becomes a great time to apply moisturizer to the skin; this is not only a gentle and safe way to help treat your children, but a great time to bond as well.

Acupuncture and acupressure

Acupuncture is a beautiful, complicated system that I have studied and trained in.

One of the studies that came to my attention while learning acupuncture examined patients suffering from a disease that triggers failure of the kidneys (organs that filter out toxins in the body). When the kidneys aren’t functioning correctly, people get itchy to the point of wishing themselves dead.

Acupuncture was used to stimulate one point on the arm called Large Intestine 11 in one group of patients. A placebo treatment, which did not stimulate a significant point on the body, was used in another group. The researchers found that the patients who underwent the acupuncture treatment reported a significant reduction in itch, while the placebo group reported no significant change.

We wanted to try this technique with eczema patients, but since many of my patients are needle-phobic, we decided to try acupressure instead.

We directed 15 patients with moderate to severe eczema to massage the Large Intestine 11 spot using small titanium beads for three-minute sessions three times a week for four weeks. We found that four of the patients who performed acupressure got significantly better whereas no one in the non-acupressure group saw improvements.

When we looked at whether itchy sensations decreased, along with the severity of overall eczema, two of the people who did not receive the acupressure treatment got worse, whereas no one in the acupressure group got worse — and five of the people getting the acupressure treatment got better versus only two in the other group. These results were enough to be statistically significant even though the study was small.

We have discovered that beads aren’t required of this treatment: many of my patients have reported beneficial results from massaging with their fingers.

Vitamin D

Robert Sidbury, M.D., a Seattle-based pediatric dermatologist and member of the NEA Scientific Advisory Committee, studied 11 children with severe eczema whose condition worsened in the winter, giving them either 1,000 IU of vitamin D or a placebo.

Eighty percent of those who took vitamin D improved and none reported worsening, whereas everyone in the placebo group essentially stayed the same. Other studies show people who have low vitamin D levels tend to have worse eczema than those with higher levels, supporting this idea.

In the Western world, many people are slightly vitamin D deficient due to the amount of time spent indoors and because of the sun protection we use to help prevent skin cancer. I usually suggest that my patients take a vitamin D supplement to help maintain a normal level.

Hypnosis

There is a lot of spotty data out there for hypnosis as it relates to atopic dermatitis patients. But I think there’s a role for hypnosis in eczema patients, particularly when it comes to stress. Think of it as a relaxation technique that helps you go to a quiet space and calm things down. It can help create a powerful connection to mind, body, and skin as well.

Of course, hypnosis as eczema therapy has its own obstacles: patients must find a therapist who can perform the treatment, it’s expensive, and it’s often not covered by insurance. Those interested in trying hypnosis without the cost can access Skin Deep, a free book online from Massachusetts-based dermatologist Ted Grossbart, Ph.D. The book shows readers how to perform some simple self- hypnosis.

Bathing

For those with atopic dermatitis, the concept of bathing can be really confusing. Some doctors say that taking too many baths will dry out skin, while others suggest bathing twice a day to help prevent water loss. You’ll sometimes hear doctors say it’s best to apply a moisturizer while the skin is still damp—or within 10 seconds or three minutes or seven minutes of emerging from the bath.

Bath therapy has been recommended for a long time, but we don’t have much evidence about best practices and many of the numbers that get tossed around aren’t rooted in research. In fact, when I was part of the Joint Task Force in Allergy and we wrote the recent treatment guidelines, we realized there was only one study upon which we could actually base any recommendations!

In that study patients were instructed to take a bath or not take a bath, and then put on moisturizer either right away or after waiting awhile. The research showed that if moisturizer is applied while skin is still damp, then it locks water into the skin and ultimately, hydrates better. It’s still very important to apply lotion on dry skin, too, in order to achieve sustained hydration.

Taking a bath at least once a day (rather than less frequently), then moisturizing immediately after, is helpful for most of my patients; it washes allergens, pollutants, and other irritants from the skin and keeps it hydrated.

Spa therapy

Can bathing in special water at a spa be more therapeutic than simply bathing at home? There’s actually a lot of good evidence that spa time can help. The problem is, it’s hard to pinpoint what aspect of the spa experience is helping; it may be a little misleading to declare that the water itself is the healing part of the experience.

Thermal spas in the south of France have served as a healing destination for people with terrible eczema and psoriasis. While there, people get sunlight and warm weather (which is sometimes called climatotherapy) in a vacation setting. It’s a spa! You’re in France! How could you not be relaxed and happy? The problem, of course, is that it’s expensive and time consuming to go to France. And for most of us, it’s a temporary solution. That being said, some studies show sustained improvement in patients with atopic dermatitis for up to two years.

Antibacterial treatments

A paper released last year showed that certain types
of Staph bacteria makes a toxin, and when that toxin is placed on the skin of a mouse, it can create eczema—even in normal skin. We are still learning what this means for us, but the concept of maintaining a community of healthy normal bacteria on your body, called the microbiome, is an emerging area of scientific study.

Some studies show that newborn babies who have a limited number of bacteria in their guts also have an association with eczema at one year of age. Babies with a more diverse flora of healthy bacteria in their guts have a decreased risk of eczema at one year of age. We don’t know exactly what that means yet — but it’s compelling in its connection between bacteria in the skin and gut.

In regard to bacteria and the skin, the number of healthy bacteria decreases around the time one experiences an eczema flare. After treating the eczema — even if using topical steroids — the bacteria diversifies again and the skin looks better. By working to restore the skin’s natural environment — even using things that are thought to be un- natural, like topical steroids — you help lay the groundwork for beneficial bacteria to grow again.

Probiotics

In short, when your skin’s bacteria become imbalanced and staph goes up, then the flare on your skin follows. But when the staph goes down, your healthy bacteria come up and then the flare ends. So this raises the question: can we force the growth of beneficial bacterial populations outside of what naturally happens on our skin and in our bodies?

As with many alternative treatments, the answer is: we don’t know.

A study in 2001 showed that when expectant mothers, and then babies, were given a lactobacillus probiotic, it cut the development of atopic dermatitis in half. This got people very excited, thinking that this would be the key to preventing the disease. But the studies that followed weren’t as striking, and the research since then has gone back and forth.

A study in 2005 showed that giving probiotics to older children with established eczema helped them get much better, and that created another wave of excitement. This too was followed by studies with mixed results. We need to learn a lot more about what probiotics can and can’t do, which ones to give, and when to give them.

Antibacterial fabrics

Garments with a built-in antibacterial agent provide an- other way to address the growth of the problem bacteria. A few studies have shown that wearing these garments can be helpful to patients, but many of these studies have been small, quirky, or underpowered, and we’ve got to be careful about making sweeping generalizations when more study is needed. Occasionally, I’ve had patients benefit from using silk clothing wraps, which can be very light, breathable and cooling to the skin.

There has also been some discussion of using silver, a natural antibacterial treatment, in clothing. But silver can leach out into the environment and negatively impact aquatic ecosystems when it is laundered. Silk and silver in clothing are also very expensive weapons of choice—especially where growing kids are concerned.

Itraconazole

There is some suggestion that yeast may play a role in atopic dermatitis, particularly in young adults with severe eczema on the head and neck. A type of yeast called malassezia that composes a normal part of our microbiome can overgrow and trigger the immune system.

A few studies have shown that taking the anti-yeast pill itraconazole, can improve the skin, but in my experience, the medicine can be a little hit or miss. Even so, I’ll sometimes have patients try it because it can be taken once a week and is pretty safe since it’s not an immunosuppressive, and it offers another approach.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar may provide a more natural way to address the yeast, as it has some anti-yeast properties and could help restore the skin’s natural healthy state in that it is slightly acidic. When our skin is a little more acidic (pH around 5), it stays strong and bacteria can’t grow well.

Conversely, if skin is more alkaline, or basic, then it begins to break down and bacteria levels increase. Patients who don’t like the concept of bleach baths can try apple cider vinegar baths as a safe and gentle possible treatment.

Anti-inflammatory alternative

Topical steroids are known anti-inflammatory drugs, but they can’t be used all the time. To supplement topical steroids, some of my patients benefit from using Florasone, an inexpensive cream that contains a Cardiospermum plant extract and serves as a gentle treatment. Because its active ingredient is derived from a plant, the cream may trigger allergies or sting the skin.

Making sense of it all

Clearly, there are many alternative treatments that can be tried and it can be overwhelming. I generally have patients try them one or two at a time and provide honest feed- back about the outcome after a set period of usually just a few weeks. With care and effort, many patients can find helpful alternatives and complementary treatments that keep the eczema in check.

Until we find a safe and inexpensive cure, keeping an open mind about some of the lesser-known alternative treatments can provide some people with much-needed relief.

Eczema refers to a medical condition characterized by inflammation and irritation of the skin. Atopic eczema and atopic dermatitis are the common forms of eczema.

It is often found in people who have a tendency to develop allergic reactions to certain compounds.

The condition generally improves in children as they age but in few, it continues for the rest of the life.

However, the condition can be kept under control by using certain natural remedies.

Use of turmeric for eczema and itching relieves symptoms easily without any side effects.

Majority of them say that it works better than the medicated lotions and creams.

Turmeric is one of the safe herbs used extensively in the treatment of skin disorders. Turmeric is a root of the plant Curcuma longa, a perennial plant that grows extensively in tropical regions of South Asia.

The active ingredient curcumin present in turmeric possesses anti-inflammatory and bactericidal property. It lowers the expression of enzymes responsible for inflammation in the body and treats inflammation of skin associated with eczema.

Please feel free to use the Table of Contents below to jump to the relevant section in the article.

Use of turmeric for Eczema and Itching

Turmeric can be used both internally and externally to treat eczema and itching. Here are a few ways to use turmeric for eczema and itching.

Using Turmeric Milk for eczema and itching

  • Mix about ½ tsp of turmeric in milk and have it to treat bacterial infections responsible for redness and itching.
  • Add ½ tsp of turmeric to boiling water and let it simmer for about ten minutes. This solution can be taken directly or can be used to wash the affected area. The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory action of curcumin helps in relieving the itching and the rashes.

Using Turmeric Paste for eczema and itching

Make a paste using 1 Tbs of grounded neem leaves paste and 1Tbs of turmeric powder. Apply this paste at the affected portion.

The antibacterial action of both turmeric and neem leaves relieves rashes.

Making Turmeric Oil for eczema and itching

Prepare turmeric oil like this: Take 250 gms of any bitter oil, ~300 gms juice of durva grass (also known as Cynodon dactylon, Bermuda grass, bermudagrass, dubo, dog’s tooth grass, Bahama grass, devil’s grass, couch grass, etc.), 125 gms of turmeric ground down with water.

Cook them in an iron vessel and then cool. The oil then is strained using a piece of cloth. This oil should be applied on both wet and dry affections. The process has to be applied for at least 5 days.

Precautions while applying on wet affections:

  • Clean them and pus using neem water (it is basically an antiseptic) and then dry the surface with a clean cotton cloth. Apply the oil by using a clean cotton cloth.
  • The turmeric face mask made of ½ cup chickpea flour, 1 tsp of turmeric powder, 1tsp of sandalwood powder and almond oil gives blemish free beautiful skin. Apply the paste on the face and do gentle massage. Rinse off with water after five to ten minutes to enjoy scar free glowing skin.

How does turmeric help with eczema and skin irritation?

A lot of research has been done with regards to the use of turmeric in treating skin related disorders. No study as such which focuses on turmeric’s effect on reducing itching but eczema is a symptom of almost all skin conditions and turmeric has a number of pharmacological properties to reduce it.

Turmeric is a herb, spice or now one of the best nutraceuticals. This is due to its bioactive component, curcumin. Turmeric oil also has a therapeutic property.

1. Turmeric aids in treating skin diseases

Earlier one of the primary uses of turmeric was to treat the skin as a cosmetic or medication. There are several reasons why it was used for this purpose:

  • It reduces skin infection.
  • It reduces inflammation.
  • It combats skin infection.
  • It reduces dyspigmentation.
  • It protects skin from pollutants and chemicals.
  • It has an anti-allergic activity.

One of the best properties of turmeric with reference to dermatology is its skin regenerating potential.

As an antioxidant, it prevents damage caused by the reactive oxygen species and it downregulates the activity of the vital proteins behind the inflammation.

By altering the various biochemical processes it speeds up wound healing and renews skin layers.

UCLA researchers state that curcumin gel rapidly heals burns or photodamaged skin with little or no side effects.

Plaque psoriasis is a condition characterized by reddening and scaling of the skin.

Turmeric gel is found to be efficient in reducing the inflammation causing psoriasis without causing side effects and it is recommended as an add-on to conventional therapy. (Read Turmeric for psoriasis)

Formulations containing turmeric have been found to be helpful in reducing itching and other symptoms in eczema patients. Topical application of nanocurcumin formulations is also being investigated for the treatment of skin disorders.

What does this mean?
Turmeric, as well as curcumin, have multiple modes of acting against skin diseases and clinical studies have investigated its role in treating scleroderma, psoriasis etc.Topical formulations of curcumin are being devised to help in treatment of skin inflammation.

2. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory agent

Most of you who have read our previous articles will find this one as a common point mentioned with respect to most health conditions.

So curcumin is a strong anti-inflammatory agent and it does so by downregulating the activity of inflammatory chemicals and immune cells.

It is anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity is comparable to that of regular painkillers and steroids. (Read Why Turmeric Beats Many Steroidal Medications Hands Down)

Researchers at Rutgers University studied the effect of curcumin on inhibiting experimental conditions for tumor formation on the skin. An interesting finding reported in this study was that topical application of curcumin inhibited the activity of enzymes involved in inflammation of the skin.

End-stage kidney disease patients suffer a number of complications one of them being uremic pruritis.

This is sort of a rash which develops on the skin and can be acute or chronic.

Treatment with turmeric in such patients is found to reduce such irritation and reduce inflammatory biomarkers responsible for this condition.

Curcumin (1g per day) is found to reduce chemical exposure induced skin irritation by virtue of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.

What does this mean?
Eczema is skin inflammation and curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. It helps in controlling itching and rashes even if the cause of inflammation is due to some other health condition or chemical exposure.

3. It has anti-allergen activity

Mast cells are a type of immune cells that are involved in allergic or hypersensitivity response.

When an allergen or foreign body attaches to our antibodies, these mast cells are activated and in order to fight this allergen, the mast cells release inflammatory chemicals.

One such chemical is histamine which mediates allergic response.

An animal study was conducted where the effect of curcumin on such an allergic reaction in the skin was assessed.

Curcumin significantly reduced mast cell activation and histamine release thereby demonstrating anti-allergic activity.

Lee et al have also confirmed this activity and found it to be useful in treating atopic dermatitis and allergic conditions.
C.aromatica, a related species of turmeric (C.longa) is proven to have an anti-allergic effect.

Curcumin, among the curcuminoids, is the most potent in reducing allergic activity and reduces scratching and itching that occurs in such cases.

However, a few researchers have noted down cases where curcumin itself has resulted in an allergic reaction.

What does this mean?
Turmeric helps in reducing allergic responses which could cause skin rashes.

4. It has anti-microbial activity

Turmeric has broad spectrum anti-microbial property. This could be of use in curbing any infection that is causing eczema or skin rash.

Turmeric creams containing turmeric oil have anti-fungal activity as strong as that of ketoconazole, a common anti-fungal medication.

What does this mean?
Bacterial and fungal infections can cause eczema. Turmeric powder and oil have excellent anti-microbial activity.

Radiation dermatitis or radiation-induced skin inflammation is a common side effect of radiotherapy.

A study was conducted wherein breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy were given curcumin to reduce the severity of radiation dermatitis.

They were given either 2g of curcumin thrice a day or placebo throughout their course of radiotherapy.

At the end of the treatment, curcumin showed a significant reduction in radiation dermatitis compared to placebo and fewer patients in the curcumin group experienced peeling off of the upper layer of skin.

A cream containing turmeric and sandalwood oil is found to significantly reduce radiodermatitis within 7 weeks of treatment.

Kuttan et al reported that alcoholic extract of turmeric or curcumin ointment when applied topically reduced itching in almost all cases of skin cancer. Lesion size and pain was reduced in patients and these therapeutic effects lasted for over several months.

What does this mean?
Curcumin therapy is proven to be effective in treating radiotherapy induced skin inflammation and also helpful as an add-on therapy in skin cancer.

Forms of turmeric available in the market

There are several forms of turmeric available in the market:

  • Powder.
  • Tincture.
  • Fluid extract.

Turmeric root can also be purchased directly from the store and can be ground into powder or a fluid extract can be made. Most of the turmeric products available in the stores contain bromelain that promotes absorption of curcumin. It also boosts the anti-inflammatory action of curcumin.

I generally do not recommend supplements unless there is no other way. Using turmeric as a spice as part of the diet is the best way to get its benefits.

I have explained the dosage of various forms of turmeric in this article in detail.

If you include turmeric as a spice/powder do add black pepper in your diet too. As turmeric has low absorption otherwise.

Precautions

Turmeric in food is safe but either in case of supplements or dietary turmeric you might face initial gastric discomfort if you have never tried it previously.

It is advisable to consult a doctor before taking curcumin supplements to avoid chances of allergic reactions or drug interactions. Also, supplements are not advisable on the long term.

A few conditions in which turmeric supplements should be avoided are:

  • Pregnancy and lactation
  • Prior to surgery
  • Anti-diabetic medications
  • If suffering from gall bladder problems
  • Stomach acid-reducing medications and blood thinning agents

Cases of turmeric topical application allergy have also been reported. It could happen that the turmeric powder you are using has additives. You might want to do a patch test in that case.

In case you would like some help with finding good brands, you can have a look at this.

Conclusion

Turmeric’s therapeutic efficacy in eczema and related skin conditions is well proven by research. I haven’t used turmeric for the skin as such except for turmeric based plasters and the wound healing rate was exceptional.

But I have heard a couple of testimonials from friends with respect to turmeric for skin and they are pretty promising.

In case you have tried, please do share your experience for everyone’s benefit.

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Turmeric, an ingredient in most curries and mustards, has a nearly 4000-year history of use as more than just a spice. Turmeric’s deep-orange pigment has been used as a dye, and both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine traditions use turmeric in treatments. Turmeric has also held a place in religious ceremonies across India for thousands of years.

Today, supplement makers say turmeric may be useful for people with inflammation or joint pain, or for those who want to take antioxidants, which turmeric contains. Turmeric is also purported to treat heartburn, stomach ulcers, gallstones, allergies, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, wounds and eczema. Some claim turmeric can aid digestion and regulate menstruation.

The turmeric plant (Curcuma longa) is an herb closely related to ginger. It’s cultivated in tropical climates across Asia for its rootstocks, which supply the flavor and pigment of the plant. The rootstocks — which grow underground, but are more of a stem than a true root — can be ground into a paste, or dried and ground into a powder.

Turmeric contains more than 300 naturally occurring components including beta-carotene, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), calcium, flavonoids, fiber, iron, niacin, potassium, zinc and other nutrients. But the chemical in turmeric linked to its most highly touted health effects is curcumin.

Does turmeric work?

Few studies have been done to reliably prove or disprove turmeric’s purported benefits. But there is some preliminary evidence to suggest curcumin has some health benefits, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Turmeric has shown some effectiveness in treating peptic ulcers, and there is some suggestion it helps to prevent and treat cancer. In one study of human saliva, curcumin interfered with cell signals that drive the growth of head and neck cancer, according to the 2011 study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research. There is also evidence that topical application of turmeric can relieve itching caused by skin cancer. It has been found that turmeric with all of its components working together is more effective than curcumin alone when used to in cancer research studies.

However, turmeric’s primary effect on the body is that it decreases inflammation, which is associated with many health conditions.

One experiment in rats showed that curcumin may ease joint swelling from rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers gave rats turmeric extracts before and after inducing rheumatoid-arthritis symptoms in the animals. Some extracts contained only curcuminoids, the family of chemicals that include curcumin, while other extracts contained curcuminoids along with other compounds. The study, published in 2006 in the Journal of Natural Products, found that pure curcuminoid extracts were more effective in treating rheumatoid-arthritis symptoms, and that curcuminoids worked better in preventing new joint swelling than in treating existing swelling.

Turmeric may also help prevent bone loss resulting from osteoporosis. In a 2010 study, researchers induced menopause symptoms in rats, because menopause often leads to bone loss. The rats were then treated with high and low concentrations of curcuminoids, before and after the induced menopause. Low concentrations of curcuminoids had little effect, but the rats treated with curcuminoids extracts that were 94 percent pure showed up to 50 percent less bone loss during the two-month experiment, according to the study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

While these and other animal studies of curcumin indicate a possible medicinal use, results in animals don’t always translate to humans. More evidence is needed to examine turmeric’s effect on the conditions it is purported to treat, including jaundice, hepatitis, fibromyalgia, liver and gallbladder problems, headache, ringworm, bruising, eye infections and skin rashes.

Preliminary evidence from studies in people suggests turmeric may be effective in the management of pain, dyspepsia (upset stomach), or hyperlipidemia (high lipid levels in the blood).

“However, currently, high-quality clinical evidence for the use of turmeric in any human indication is lacking,” said Catherine Ulbricht, senior pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and co-founder of Natural Standard Research Collaboration, which reviews evidence on herbs and supplements.

Overall, the Natural Standard Research Collaboration graded turmeric as a “C,” on a scale of A to F, for the strength and amount of evidence supporting claims for any health benefit.

Is turmeric safe?

Turmeric is safe for most people when consumed in amounts found in food. But turmeric can have side effects when taken in large doses. Some supplements contain up to 500 milligrams of turmeric extract, and their labels recommend taking four capsules per day.

High doses of turmeric can lower blood sugar or blood pressure, Ulbricht said, which means people taking diabetes or blood-pressure medication should use caution while taking turmeric supplements. People preparing for surgery should avoid turmeric supplements because turmeric can increase the risk of bleeding. Turmeric may also interfere with how the liver processes certain drugs, so it is best to consult a doctor before taking large doses of turmeric alongside medication.

Blood thinners can interact with large doses of turmeric, as can drugs that reduce blood clotting. People may experience bleeding or bruising when combining large doses of turmeric with aspirin, warfarin, anti-platelet drugs and NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen. Turmeric also increases the blood-thinning effect of herbal remedies, including angelica, clove, Danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, red clover, and willow, Ulbricht said. Other medications, such as those for reducing stomach acid and diabetes, can also have their effects affected by turmeric supplements.

Little research has been done on excessive doses of turmeric. A few medical reports of people taking extremely high doses of turmeric suggest it can cause an altered heartbeat. Excessive doses of turmeric may also cause delusion, mild fever, upset stomach or kidney stones. Turmeric may exacerbate gallbladder problems or worsen acid-reflux or heartburn symptoms. Large doses of turmeric may also worsen arthritis symptoms and cause skin rash.

Pregnant women should avoid taking large amounts of turmeric, Ulbricht said. Turmeric at supplement doses may promote menstruation, or stimulate the uterus enough to put the pregnancy at risk.

Turmeric should not be confused with Javanese turmeric root (Curcuma zedoaria), which has its own medicinal uses and side effects.

Additional reporting by Rachel Ross, Live Science contributor.

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