All you need to know about coconut oil for baby skin prone to eczema
- by Petra Jelinkova
Can coconut oil really be an effective treatment for skin prone to eczema? It’s a question asked by thousands of parents struggling to care for their baby’s skin.
With all the hype around coconut oil at the moment, it’s easy to get confused. After all, you don’t want to make your child’s eczema worse. Although steroid creams prescribed by your doctor have a place in eczema treatment, they are generally recommended for short term use as eczema is often an ongoing condition.
Here we present the scientific facts around coconut oil and its potential as a treatment for baby eczema. Because it turns out virgin coconut oil is a powerful natural solution that has proven benefits over conventional eczema treatments.
A guide to coconut oil for baby eczema
When I first looked into components of coconut oil, it all made sense. Together, these properties combine to create a powerful punch in the fight against paediatric eczema.
Coconut oil not only soothes the symptoms of skin prone to eczema but also prevents further damage.
It contains antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. These all help to stop infection and heal broken skin.
It contains many healthy vitamins and nutrients that help soothe the itchiness of eczema and soothe irritated skin. These are lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid along with vitamins K and E.
The components of coconut oil that make it so amazing as a baby eczema treatment
- Lauric acid has proven antibacterial properties which can help control the growth of staphylococcus bacteria which loves living on dry skin. It’s this bacteria which causes the infection that makes eczema worse.
- Lauric acid also has anti-inflammatory benefits which can help during the itch-scratch cycle.
- Saturated fats add smoothness to the skin and also layer the skin’s natural barrier to help it to retain moisture.
- Vitamin E which is needed for healthy skin to grow and repair itself.
- Phytonutrients and polyphenols which have antioxidant properties to fight skin cell damage.
- Caprylic and capric acid to prevent itchy and flakey skin as well as helping to protect the skin’s natural protective barrier.
In addition, the fatty acid molecules in coconut oil are small enough to be easily absorbed through cell membranes, so the oil helps repair the skin at the cellular level.
Proven clinical studies on coconut oil for eczemaMany parents can be dubious about natural treatments like pure coconut oil, because they’re not prescribed like pharmaceuticals. Yet coconut oil is medically proven to be superior to other treatments such as mineral oils. (Vaseline is a mineral oil).
In 2013, researchers ran a double-blind randomised control study of 117 children over eight weeks. They compared coconut oil to a mineral oil and found coconut oil was significantly better in improving mild to moderate eczema.
Another study of adult eczema found that applying coconut oil twice a day can decrease bacteria on skin by 95 percent.
Not all coconut oil is equal: OVCO vs refinedThere are two main types of coconut oils and they are virgin coconut oil and refined coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is the one you want to use, it comes directly from fresh coconut without the use of chemicals. Ideally, you’d use Organic Virgin Coconut Oil (OVCO) which is the purest version.
Refined coconut oil has gone through a chemical process where it has been dried and then prepared with chemicals to extend its shelf life. This process can also take out the natural beneficial properties of coconut oil for the skin.
So when deciding on products to use, check the ingredient to make sure they specify organic virgin coconut oil, to ensure it retains the powerful properties you need.
How to use coconut oil for baby skin prone to eczemaYou can either use pure oil, or use our Natural Moisturiser which includes organic coconut oil. I rub it into my toddler’s skin, keeping it away from his eyes. I pay special attention to his elbows and knees where the condition tends to flare up.
The best time to use virgin coconut oil as a moisturiser is immediately after the bath while the skin is still damp. I moisturise my toddler I have bathed him in natural oatmeal, goats milk & organic coconut bath soak.
This is when the skin can absorb the most amount of moisture. It’s also when a moisturiser will be most effective in helping to form a barrier on the skin to stop water loss, and to stop irritants getting in.
Although coconut allergy is uncommon, as with all natural products you should patch test first to check for any allergies or a reaction.
Organic coconut oil in Itchy Baby Co. productsOrganic coconut oil is a main ingredient in our Natural Moisturiser. We’ve combined it with the hydrating, soothing and anti-itch properties of colloidal oatmeal, as well as the protective and intensely rich properties of organic shea butter and organic beeswax. The result is a moisturiser packed full of natural properties to help manage this skin condition.
Our Natural Scalp Oil also offers the goodness of coconut oil, with the main ingredients being caprylic and capric acid which work to fight dryness and flaking.