Learn whether turmeric works as a baby eczema remedy, based on the available research.
People have used turmeric as part of remedies for thousands of years. You may have heard of it as a possible eczema remedy for your baby. But can turmeric help relieve your baby’s eczema? Today, we’ll explore whether there’s solid evidence to prove it works.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a spice known for its golden yellow color. It is made from the ground-up root of the turmeric plant, a plant in the same family as ginger. Turmeric has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, as a treatment for various conditions.
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties
Turmeric gets its famous color from a micronutrient called curcumin. That same curcumin gives the spice anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that have been widely proven through reliable research.
For many years, turmeric has been used to treat a variety of anti-inflammatory conditions, including eczema, because of these promising properties.
Turmeric also has antimicrobial properties, which could help fight against the growth of bacteria (and against resulting infections) on the skin of people with eczema.
Turmeric can either be taken orally or applied to the skin as a topical treatment — there are several eczema pastes and balms for eczema that list turmeric as an active ingredient.
But there’s not enough scientific evidence out there to prove that turmeric is an effective eczema treatment.
Studies on Turmeric and Eczema
More studies are needed on whether turmeric can effectively treat eczema. The studies that have been conducted are few in number. Still, early results do seem somewhat promising.
The National Eczema Association reports that two studies have been conducted on turmeric and eczema, both involving a topical cream or gel, and both from 2015.
One Indian study tested a topical cream that contained turmeric. The study was sponsored by the makers of the cream. In the study, 150 adults with eczema were asked to apply the cream twice a day for 4 weeks.
Applying the cream did result in a 30% reduction in scaliness and a 32% reduction in itching. But the cream contained other herbs that have anti-inflammatory properties. So, it was impossible to tell if the turmeric helped relieve the symptoms, or if the other active ingredients provided the benefits.
Another study, also conducted in India, examined the effects of a topical treatment containing turmeric on 360 patients with eczema.
Although the treatment in this study helped relieve eczema’s itching, scaling, and other symptoms, the treatment also contained other active ingredients that could have relieved the eczema. So again, it’s impossible to know how beneficial the turmeric was.
In addition to these two studies, a 2016 review examined evidence from 18 studies on turmeric and the treatment of skin conditions. At least one study examined turmeric’s effects on eczema, but most dealt with other conditions.
The review concluded that there’s early, promising evidence that turmeric can help treat certain skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis. However, far more studies are needed (including studies on the dosage of turmeric needed for the benefits).
As the researchers reported in their abstract, “Overall, there is early evidence that turmeric/curcumin products and supplements, both oral and topical, may provide therapeutic benefits for skin health. However, currently published studies are limited and further studies will be essential to better evaluate efficacy and the mechanisms involved.”
Should you try a turmeric treatment on your baby’s eczema?
As a food, turmeric is recognized as safe for both adults and children. But the few studies on turmeric as an eczema treatment were in adults. There have been no studies on children, let alone babies, so far.
Still, there’s no harm in trying a topical turmeric treatment for your baby’s eczema, as long as your dermatologist gives the okay. As with all eczema treatments, always ask your dermatologist about a turmeric treatment before using it to treat baby’s eczema. Your dermatologist will tell you how often the baby should use the treatment.
Also, when talking to the National Eczema Association, Dermatologist Peter Lio, M.D. said to keep this in mind: Turmeric shouldn’t be used as a substitute for proven medical eczema treatments, such as prescription moisturizers and steroids. It’s also no substitute for best-practice care, including the daily bath and moisturizing routine. Instead, if you choose to use turmeric, use it as a supplementary treatment, in addition to the proven treatment steps that your dermatologist recommends for baby.
And remember — we still don’t know how much turmeric is needed for the best results, or if turmeric is effective enough at treating baby eczema for the treatment to be worth it.
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.