Coconut oil has therapeutic effects when treating skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis. Due to its composition, it is an adjuvant to soothe irritation.
Coconut oil is one of the ingredients of natural origin that can contribute to the control of the symptoms of atopic dermatitis. Although it is not a first choice treatment against this disease, it is useful in calming irritation and preventing infection.
As stated in a study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, this oil has anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties that contribute to improving the function of the skin barrier. Why and how to use it? Here are the details.
What is atopic dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis, also called "eczema", is a chronic skin disease characterized by redness, dryness and itching. It often causes scaly patches on various parts of the body, especially on the hands, ankles, neck and the inside of the elbows and knees.
The disease is most common in children under the age of 5, but can occur at any age. In addition, its symptoms appear and disappear over time, as there is no definitive cure. In any case, it is necessary to give it a treatment, otherwise it can cause complications like the following ones:
- Hay fever.
- Chronic itching and peeling of the skin.
- Dermatological infections.
- Irritative dermatitis of the hands.
- Allergic contact dermatitis.
- Sleep disorders (due to symptoms).
Can coconut oil treat atopic dermatitis?
First of all, it should be clear that coconut oil is not a cure or a first-line treatment for atopic dermatitis. Although many companies and sites have attributed almost miraculous properties to it, it is a product that is still being researched to date.
Even so, some studies support many of its properties. Due to its lauric acid content, it has an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effect that may be useful as an adjunct to managing the symptoms of this skin condition.
However, whether it is beneficial or not depends on each patient. According to an article published in the National Eczema Association, while some patients have experienced benefits after applying coconut oil to their lesions, others have suffered the opposite effect; that is, their symptoms were exacerbated rather than improved.
The reason is that atopic dermatitis evolves in different ways in each person. Not everyone suffers from outbreaks due to the same triggers, and therefore treatments are not the same. Therefore, it is essential to consult a professional in dermatology and seek an individualized treatment.
Benefits of coconut oil for atopic dermatitis
There are several benefits that explain the popularity of coconut oil in calming the symptoms of atopic dermatitis. Although it is important to use it with caution, evidence suggests that it can complement treatment of this disease. Let's see in detail.
Contributes to hydration
Skin with eczema is less able to stay hydrated. Fortunately, coconut oil contains fatty acids that protect the skin barrier to prevent it from losing its natural moisture.
A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology found that topical application of this ingredient improves skin hydration in children with this form of dermatitis.
Helps prevent infection
Due to its lauric acid content, coconut oil has antimicrobial and antifungal effects. Consequently, it helps reduce the risk of infections caused by constant scratching of the skin.
This is supported by a study published in the Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society, which found that lauric acid decreases the presence of bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
It has anti-inflammatory activity
An article in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that coconut oil has emollient and anti-inflammatory effects that are useful against the symptoms of atopic dermatitis. In particular, it helps mitigate irritation and associated discomfort.
Antioxidants not only play an important role in preventing premature aging. Coinciding with a study reported in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, these molecules are beneficial in the treatment of atopic dermatitis.
Indeed, extra virgin coconut oil represents a significant source of antioxidant substances, which can mitigate the impact of oxidative stress on the skin.
Use of coconut in dermatology
Coconut and its derivatives have been studied for some time in order to understand their true dermatological implications. The results are promising.
How to use coconut oil for atopic dermatitis?
For most people, coconut oil is considered safe. However, as we have mentioned, in some patients with eczema it can cause the opposite effect to that desired. Therefore, it is necessary to consult with a doctor or dermatologist before use. Also, it should be avoided if there is a history of allergy to coconut.
If there are no problems, the ideal is to choose an extra virgin or cold-pressed oil. This ensures that its composition is free of other chemicals that can be irritating. To make it easy to apply, it is best to keep it at room temperature. Thus, it is enough to take a small amount to massage the desired areas twice a day.
Coconut oil should be used with caution
It is true that the evidence supports many of the properties of coconut oil for the skin and its conditions. However, this does not mean that it is a product with miraculous effects. Like many other natural ingredients, it should be used with caution, preferably under the supervision of a dermatologist.
Although in atopic dermatitis it seems to have important benefits, in some patients it could cause undesired effects. Therefore, if any adverse reaction is noted, it is best to discontinue use. In addition, it is essential to maintain the medical treatment suggested by the professional.