Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition also known as atopic dermatitis. Symptoms include itchy, flaky, swollen and irritated skin. Though it's not a life-threatening condition, it can be extremely unpleasant. Chamomile and chamomile extract have been used throughout history to treat eczema and other conditions.
According to U.S. National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus, chamomile has been a popular treatment for eczema and other ailments for thousands of years, particularly in Europe. Though use of chamomile as an eczema treatment continues, enough clinical evidence has never been gathered to effectively determine whether chamomile is a safe and proper treatment for eczema.
According to the Mayo Clinic, eczema is caused by a combination of several factors, including: dry, sensitive skin that is easily irritated, genetic predisposition for allergic conditions like hay fever and a possible defect in the body's immune system that directly results in this type of dermatitis. In some cases, stress can make eczema worse, but it is not considered a direct cause.
For some users, when taken orally, chamomile and products with chamomile extract have led to severe allergic reactions, including: difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat and anaphylaxis. Documented allergic skin reactions have also included dermatitis and eczema. If you have eczema and know you're allergic to herbs in the asteraceae family should avoid using chamomile products as it may actually exacerbate your eczema. Moreover, pregnant women should avoid using chamomile; it has abortive tendencies. Always consult your personal physician or dermatologist when using chamomile products for eczema.
If you have no known allergies to chamomile or other plants in that family, you can use chamomile cream as a form of alternative medicine. According to the Mayo Clinic, when applied topically, chamomile can act as a soothing agent that temporarily relieves symptoms of eczema. The Mayo Clinic cites studies that have found that chamomile creams have a similar effect on eczema as creams containing .25 percent hydrocortisone.
According to MedlinePlus, chamomile may interact adversely with several types of drugs and herbal supplements. Chamomile may have a negative effect on blood sugar and blood pressure when taken with other medications that are used to treat high blood pressure or abnormal levels of blood sugar. Chamomile may also interact badly with antibiotics, antifungals, various depressants, antihistamines, and anticoagulants or antiplatelet medications. Chamomile can also cause extreme drowsiness when used in conjunction with other herbs that act as sleep aids.