The skin inflammation known as eczema can be both uncomfortable and unsightly. In some cases a humble can of vegetable shortening may ease some of the discomfort by providing hydration. Crisco enjoys a reputation with home remedy fans for soothing dry skin and problems such as eczema, and some medical institutions specifically recommend it. Always check with your doctor to determine if a prescription or over-the-counter medication should be used instead of a home remedy.
With eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, patients experience skin inflammation. The inflammation causes redness, dryness, itchiness and sometimes pain. It often affects the arms and legs. Occasionally the condition is short-term, caused by an allergy. But often eczema is a chronic problem, with "flares" of symptoms followed by periods of dormancy. According to the MayoClinic website researchers believe that eczema is an immune system malfunction, but they don't know exactly what causes this malfunction.
Crisco is a brand name for vegetable shortening. The current formula contains solidified soybean and palm oils. The semisolid white product is primarily used as a food product, but dermatologists sometimes recommend it for dry skin and other skin conditions. Other brands of vegetable shortening, including store brands, can be used in place of Crisco when treating eczema.
Along with eliminating skin irritants and using oral and topical anti-inflammatories, hydrating the skin is a crucial step in treating eczema. Crisco helps retain moisture after bathing, which the skin needs in order to prevent the eczema from worsening, according to the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Apply Crisco after a bath or shower to lock in moisture. After showering or bathing, pat yourself gently dry with a clean towel, but don't rub vigorously -- you want to retain some dampness. Scoop some Crisco into your hands and rub it over the afflicted areas, or over your whole body for all-over skin hydration, if desired. Allow the Crisco to penetrate your skin before dressing.
Crisco's main benefits are effectiveness and cost. As with traditional moisturizers, the product keeps water from evaporating from your skin after bathing, which facilities hydration. But Crisco costs much less than most store-brand moisturizers, notes the University of Kansas Medical Center. Because eczema is sometimes a chronic condition, you may need to buy quite a bit of moisturizer to keep skin hydrated, making the lower cost of vegetable shortening all the more important.
Liquid vegetable oil, although somewhat messier, may also be applied, notes the University of Chicago. Additional alternatives include petroleum jelly or conventional moisturizing creams, lotions or ointments.