The National Eczema Association explains that more than 30 million Americans suffer from atopic dermatitis, the most serious kind of eczema. The term eczema encompasses many different skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis, a type that begins in childhood, contact dermatitis, a type instigated by a reaction to stimuli, and nummular eczema, a type caused by cold weather. Typically, eczema is a rash that is dry, itchy and red, possibly with blisters. Lemon essential oil extracted from lemon rind might relieve symptoms of eczema, although it could also cause or worsen eczema. Check with your dermatologist and a certified aromatherapist before using it.
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Essential oil of lemon has numerous benefits for varying skin types and conditions. Eczema is just one type of skin condition lemon can help. Lemon oil is antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic. It is itch-relieving, cleansing, healing for skin infections and smoothes and tightens skin. Further, stress aggravates some types of eczema and although lemon is stimulating, this contradictory oil can also calm you and lower your levels of stress. These are all properties that help the skin and might improve symptoms of eczema, although research is needed to back up these claims.
Although lemon has properties that can relieve eczema, lemon essential oil has also been known to cause or worsen eczema. Lemon oil contains astringent qualities that might further dry up and aggravate eczema. A 1977 study in “Contact Dermatitis” found that citral, a constituent of lemon essential oil, was causing eczema on the hands of cleaning employees from the soap used. However, the citral did not seem to irritate the skin in cold water, but hot water worsened it. Try lemon essential oil with caution to see how your skin reacts, under the supervision of a doctor or certified aromatherapist.
Dilute lemon essential oil before applying it to your skin. To make an oil blend you can rub onto your eczema, dilute 20 drops of lemon into 3.5 oz. of a carrier oil. Recommended carrier oils for dry skin are almond, grapeseed and cocoa butter oils. Give the blend about four days to meld together before using. You could also substitute other essential oils for some of the lemon. German chamomile, lavender and sandalwood are oils that mix well with lemon and are beneficial for dry skin. If the oil mixture bothers your skin, try adding a couple drops of lemon oil to your bath instead.
Essential oils can cause side effects such as allergic reactions on the skin. Test a small amount of diluted lemon oil on your skin before using it to treat eczema. Also, lemon oil can make your skin photosensitive, so use extra precautions if you go into the sun. Consult a certified aromatherapist to learn how to properly use essential oils.
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- "The Aromatherapy Kit"; Charla Devereux; 1993
- "The A-Z Guide to Healing with Essential Oils: Aromatherapy"; Shelagh Masline, et al.; 1997
- "Aromatherapy Oils: A Complete Guide"; Carol Schiller, et al.; 1996
- PubMed: Temperature Dependent Primary Irritant Dermatitis From Lemon Perfume; H.W. Rotehnborg, et al.; February 1977