According to the National Eczema Association, there is no cure for eczema, a chronic disorder that causes the skin to be dry, irritable and itchy. The good news is that a careful daily skin care routine can help keep skin moisturized and prevent eczema flare-ups. Using a mild, natural cleanser such as Castile soap for baths—and when washing one's hands and face—can be an important step in controlling eczema.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases defines "eczema" as any of several forms of dermatitis. Eczema affects up to 20 percent of infants and children and 7 percent of adults. It can range from a localized, short-lived reaction caused by contact with an irritant or allergen, to chronic, widespread areas of red, itchy, scaly or oily skin. Treatment for eczema can include lifestyle and skin care changes, prescription topical or oral medications or even phototherapy, which uses ultraviolet light to treat the skin.
Many commercial soaps contain harsh chemicals and numerous ingredients, which can increase the likelihood of skin irritation or an allergic reaction. The National Eczema Association discourages the use of soaps containing fragrances or dyes, and it points out that most soaps are significantly more alkaline, or less acidic, than human skin. Harsh ingredients and highly alkaline soaps can damage the skin or disrupt its normal function.
Castile Soap Basics
Castile soap is one of the mildest, simplest and most natural soaps available. Castile soaps consist largely or even entirely of olive oil, which leaves little or no room for chemicals, artificial scents and colors or other ingredients that could be problematic. In fact, the site recommends Castile soap for people with sensitive skin, including those suffering from eczema or other clinical skin disorders.
Castile Soap Benefits
Olive oil soaps, such as Castile soap, offer many unique benefits. Soap made from olive oil can help ease the symptoms of eczema, psoriasis and other skin disorders, because it naturally softens and soothes skin without clogging the pores. In addition, substances within olive oil, such as squalene and squalane, help protect and preserve the skin's natural oils. Hydroxytyrosol in olive oil is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that can help soothe rashes and heal damaged skin.
Using Castile Soap
Castile soap can have the greatest impact on eczema when used in specific ways as part of an overall bathing and skin care routine. The National Eczema Association recommends taking a bath or shower of 5 to 10 minutes once per day, using warm water rather than hot or cold, avoiding rough washcloths or towels and applying moisturizer within minutes of bathing. Creams and ointments tend to be more effective moisturizers than lotions, and they should be applied after any topical medications.
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: Atopic Dermatitis
- Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology: Treatment of Eczema
- Blackberry Creek Soaps: Olive Oil Soap Is Great for Your Skin
- Indian Dermatology Online Journal: Impact of Hand Eczema Severity on Quality of Life