Using Coconut Oil for Dermatitis

woman scratching ezcema on arm with coconut oil

If you have dermatitis or eczema, you may be wondering if you can use coconut oil to treat it and other dry skin symptoms.

Treatments used to treat these types of skin conditions can include prescription drugs and specialized skin lotions which can help reduce redness, peeling and dryness.

Some patients can have tremendous success with over-the-counter medications and lotions, whereas other patients have been frustrated with their lack of results.

Recent studies have shown that coconut oil is an effective treatment for reducing dryness and itchiness in dry skin.

And a recent study now indicates that you could use coconut oil to treat symptoms of dermatitis and eczema.

What is Dermatitis?

Dermatitis is a common skin condition that’s characterized by an inflammation of the skin.

There are many types of dermatitis including psoriasis, eczema and urticaria (hives or rashes). There’s no cure, but it can be treated a number of different ways.

dermatitis on patient's arms

Dermatitis Inflammation on Arms

Doctors claims that some people who have atopic dermatitis may be more prone to a higher risk of skin infections. They believe that the chronic scratching of dry itchy skin may break open the top layer of the skin which could make you more susceptible to bacteria and viruses.

Some of the more commonly prescribed treatments for this type of dermatitis include antiseptic lotions and/or antibiotics. These are used to reduce the bacteria levels and to improve moisture levels. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed to help fight the inflammation.

Unfortunately, some studies have shown that using antibiotics may have minimal effects on improving your skin’s condition and there’s also concerns about experiencing possible side effects from using corticocsteroids.

Study Shows Coconut Oil may be Natural Cure for Dermatitis

small plastic jar of Alpha extra virgin coconut oil for dermatitis and eczema

A recent study published in the 2008 Nov/Dec issue of Dermatology detailed the antibiotic and moisturizing effects from using coconut oil on atopic dermatitis.

In this study, researchers compared the moisturizing and antibiotic effects of virgin coconut oil and olive oil.

Now many tropical islanders are familiar with the health benefits of coconut oil and Mediterraneans have preached about the benefits of olive oil for generations. All you have to do is take a look at some of the Italian women with their beautiful, flawless skin and it’s no doubt that their healthy  diet of fresh fruits, vegetables and ample amounts of olive oil may have played a role.

However, some food scientists believe that coconut oils may offer a wider range of health benefits because it contains lauric acid, a potent anti-microbial found to be effective against many strains of bacteria, fungi and protozoa.

Study Results from Using Coconut Oil on Dermatitis:

  • When patients applied a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil (twice a day) to their dermatitis, they experienced significantly less redness, scaling, dryness and edema, compared to the group using olive oil.

  • Researchers also discovered that it caused a marked reduction in bacteria. This was not seen in the group using olive oil. Even more interesting was that 25 out of 26 patients receiving coconut oils showed improvement in their symptoms.

before and after photos of patient's legs after using coconut oil on dermatitis

After 4 weeks of applying coconut oil, patients saw improvement in their dermatitis including less redness, dryness and edema. Researchers found coconut oil caused a significant reduction in bacterial skin levels of Staphylococcus aureus. Photo courtesy of and Dermatology, Issue 2008 Nov/Dec.

It appears that coconut oils can naturally moisturize the skin and it may also help reduce some bacterial infections commonly seen in atopic dermatitis. Here’s one woman’s experience using coconut oil for staph infection.

The tropical oil also appears to be safe for people with dermatitis as none of the above study participants experienced any negative side effects from it. Here are more testimonials from people that have used coconut oil for different skin conditions.

While this is only a single study on coconut oil dermatitis, the results do appear encouraging.

Using natural oils to enhance skin health appears to be an area of growing interest in the scientific community as there’s also additional research on the effects of fish oil on eczema that seem promising.

You could also try using organic body lotions that contain virgin coconut oil and other natural ingredients that may help enhance the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

Remember to consult with your dermatologist or health care provider before beginning any new treatment plans to ensure specific ingredients won’t aggravate your skin.

Research References:

Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis. 2008 Nov-Dec;19(6):308-15.

Comparative study of Staphylococcus aureus isolated from lesional and non-lesional skin of atopic dermatitis patients. Microbiology & Immunology 2000;44:945-7.

Medicinal plants of the Philippines; Quisumbing E. , Manila: JMC Press; 1978.p. 127-32..


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