Almond oil has been used since ancient times to treat dry skin conditions, such as eczema, but it doesn't top the list of today's treatments. Doctors have a number of other treatment options that have superseded the old-time remedies, but almond oil is still used in moisturizers that can be part of an eczema treatment plan.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition characterized by scaly and itchy rashes that may blister, weep or peel. Eczema usually strikes infants and children, but adults can be affected, too. It's a hypersensitivity reaction, similar to an allergy, and may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever. People who develop eczema often have a family history of allergic conditions, and children often outgrow the condition. It commonly appears on the arms and behind the knees, but the condition can occur anywhere.
Almond oil has been used in complementary medicine in a variety of ways, including as a treatment for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. An article in the February 2010 issue of "Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice" notes that "no conclusive scientific data exists currently," but almond oil is believed to have "anti-inflammatory, immunity-boosting and anti-hepatotoxicity" properties. It also may have cardiovascular benefits. You can find it in cleansers, shampoos, moisturizers and other personal care products because of it emollient properties.
Almond oil is traditionally not a first choice for treating eczema. Doctors usually treat eczema by trying to relieve itching, reduce inflammation and help prevent future flare-ups. They often recommend corticosteroid creams or ointments to treat scaling and itching. Your doctor also may prescribe oral antihistamines to treat itching or oral corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. If scratching leads to a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Other treatments include immunomodulators, which affect the immune system, and light therapy.
Almond oil may come into play as an eczema treatment because it can be found in a number of skin moisturizers. The National Eczema Association notes, "The most important treatment for dry skin is to put water back in it." The NEA recommends you take a brief shower or soak in a bath and then use moisturizer on your skin to help keep it hydrated. If you have eczema on your hands, the association says it's important to apply a moisturizer every time you wash your hands or have contact with water. It says this basic skin care can help enhance the effect of the prescription eczema medicines.
- MayoClinic.com: Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Atopic Eczema
- "Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice"; The Uses and Properties of Almond Oil; Z. Ahmad; February 2010
- National Eczema Association: Bathing and Moisturizing
- Household Products Database: Almond Oil