Treating skin problems, acne, and eczema with herbs, essential oils, and home remedies

The skin is the body’s largest organ. It consists of multiple layers that protect the body from germs and other environmental toxins. Skin has many purposes including temperature regulation and insulation. A film called the “acid mantle” covers healthy skin and acts as a barrier. Household chemicals and detergents can strip the acid mantle causing all kinds of skin problems including acne, eczema, rashes, and dry flakes. Medicinal herbs and essential oils can help heal most skin problems and protect from further damage.

Herbs can help keep skin healthy.
© Sinan Isakovic | Dreamstime Stock Photos

This girl knows how to pamper her skin. She treats pimples, rashes, eczema, and dry flakes with herbal remedies.


Medicinal herbs can heal and balance the skin.

Many herbs (which are packed with minerals, antioxidants, and bioflavonoids) are great for the skin. Herbs can help cleanse, hydrate, heal, and balance the skin.

Skin contains naturally occurring oils.

These oils, also known as sebum, protect and lubricate the skin. Washing with harsh soaps or alcohol based cleansers removes sebum and damages the skin. Treat skin gently.

Healthy skin depends on lifestyle.

Skin can develop many problems. Symptoms of poor skin health include sores, spots, cracks, oiliness, dryness, scaling, itching, chapping, pimples, and rash. Causes are varied and may include stress, caffeine overload, allergies, high copper levels, poor digestion, constipation, poor circulation, lack of exercise, sun damage, irritating cosmetics, liver malfunction, air pollution, dehydration, and drug or alcohol abuse.

Good diet can improve skin health.

Healthy skin requires good diet and lots of water. Include citrus fruits, whole grains, carrots, beets, cucumbers, and other fresh veggies in the diet to maintain beautiful skin.

Herbs heal and protect the skin

Herbs especially suited for use in healing and protecting the skin include rose hips, evening primrose oil, green tea, echinacea, sage, ginseng, calendula, burdock root, rosemary, aloe, dandelion, lavender, and chamomile. Any herbal tea that cleanses the blood can be used to improve the skin. Drink in tea and apply as wash or lotion.

Essential oils can work wonders on the skin.

Ylang-ylang, lavender, sandalwood, and frankincense are favorite essential oils for the skin. Aging skin benefits from gentle massage with rose oil or carrot seed oil (blended with a good carrier like almond or grape seed oil).

Many ordinary kitchen ingredients can benefit the skin.

Yogurt facials help balance ph. Oatmeal exfoliates dead cells. Apple or papaya pulp can improve acne break-outs. Egg white applications temporarily smooth wrinkles (whip egg white, apply to skin and let dry, apply warm wet wash cloth on face to soften egg mask, and gently peel or slide egg white off of face). A mixture of honey and red wine can help aging skin look supple and refreshed (leave on for twenty minutes, then rinse well). Finish all treatments with an application of gentle non-petroleum moisturizer.

Moisturize with quality vegetable oils.

Moisturizers that contain petroleum products like mineral oil just sit on the skin. These moisturizers can block pores and cause blackheads. Any good vegetable oil is much more appropriate. Almond oil, walnut oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame seed oil, grape seed oil, and jojoba oil sink in to deliver nutrients and are sold at most health food stores.

Use olive oil internally and externally to improve the health of skin.

Skin loves vitamin E. Add quality cold-pressed olive oils which are full of vitamin E to the diet and avoid rancid, off smelling oils. Rancid oils harm the skin and are extremely damaging to the whole body. Keep all oils in a cool, dark place and discard if they start to smell off.

Early morning sunshine can be of benefit to the skin.

Of course, over exposure to damaging rays is one of the worst things for the skin. NEVER allow skin to burn! A little sunshine doesn't hurt and can help the body to produce more vitamin D. Sunshine can also uplift the spirit.

Tips for treating eczema with herbs

Eczema is an itchy, inflammatory skin disease usually found on the elbows, knees, wrists, neck, and scalp. Sometimes crusts and raw patches appear. In severe cases of eczema, there is oozing and even bleeding. The cause is unknown but eczema can sometimes be caused by allergic reactions or stress.

Herbs like comfrey and yellowroot can help heal eczema.

There are many herbs that help eczema and itchy skin although it may take time to find the best one for each individual person. Milk thistle seed, myrrh, licorice root extract, ginger, borage, and comfrey are some herbs known for helping eczema.

Stinging nettle or yellowroot tea may also bring soothing relief. Soak a cloth in warm tea and apply to rash for 20 minutes five times a day. Stinging nettle and yellowroot contain substances that fight bacteria, redness, and inflammation. Yellowroot can be purchased at Payne Mountain Farms.

Dairy products sometimes cause eczema.

Avoid rich dairy products. Cutting back on dairy foods may bring quick relief. Good diet with plenty of organic vegetables can sometimes heal the lesions and stop eczema outbreaks.

Try using burdock to fight eczema.

Burdock leaf is especially good for scaling skin. Combine with yellow dock, cleavers, heartsease (viola), and red clover for best results. This tea should be consumed three times a day and applied often to the affected areas of skin.

Apply herbal ointment to crusty areas.

Evening primrose or chickweed ointment helps heal lesions and crusty areas. Apply often throughout the day, after baths, and at bedtime. Chickweed also makes excellent infused oil for use in bath or massage. (Chickweed grows abundantly in the North Georgia area -- most people think of it as a weed!) Read more about making herbal ointments at home.

Heartsease can heal can sooth eczema.

Heartsease (also known as viola tri-color) can be beneficial in the treatment of eczema and other skin problems. Make tea from aerial parts (flowers, leaves, and stems) and drink three or four cups a day for a couple of weeks. Also use heartsease in ointment for soothing external applications.

Use slippery elm as an herbal remedy to treat eczema.

Slippery elm is considered a good herbal remedy for eczema. Make an herbal paste from dried, powdered leaf and a little water. Apply and leave on for one hour. Rinse and gently pat dry three times a day.

Try essential oils when treating eczema.

Some essential oils are well suited for treating eczema. Blend almond or olive oil with a few drops of rose essential oil, geranium essential oil, juniper essential oil, or lavender essential oil. Never blend multiple essential oils without testing for reaction on normal skin. Remember that essential oils are powerful substances that must be treated with care. Do not get essential oils in the eyes.

Calendula can help heal eczema.

Calendula is another effective remedy for eczema and is an excellent moisturizer. Apply as ointment or lotion.

Other remedies for treating eczema

Many times tea tree essential oil and witch hazel can help. Some herbalists recommend jojoba oil and morning sunshine. Elder leaves and aloe vera are also known to be good for healing eczema. Other remedies include bathing in baking soda, adding cranberry juice to the diet, and applications of zinc sore-throat spray.

Try adding turmeric to the diet.

Turmeric may also be used in the treatment of eczema. Take capsules daily for six weeks and condition should improve.

Children are often diagnosed with eczema.

For a gentle remedy for children and the elderly, combine dry oatmeal (or powdered oat straw) with chamomile tea to make a thick paste and apply often for two or three days. A bandage may be used to keep paste from rubbing off.

Tips for treating acne with herbs

Acne is a hormone related skin problem that can be aggravated by bad diet. Eat healthier and skin will start to clear up! You can also use herbs to help remove acne-causing waste products from the body. Burdock, dandelion, and Echinacea tea should be taken on a regular basis. Use mild oatmeal soap instead of harsh products. Fight bacteria, ease pain, and reduce swelling with lavender essential oil applied full strength in one-drop doses. Moisturize at night with light jojoba oil. Do not try to remove oil from the skin by excessive washing or using harsh astringents. This just aggravates the skin and causes worse outbreaks. Oily skin is not what causes acne.

Acne can be treated at home with herbal remedies.

Acne can be treated with simple ingredients. Rub acne prone areas with papaya and cucumber slices. Take ginseng and royal jelly (from honeybees), and drink licorice tea. Try applications of yellowroot and myrrh tea. Rub affected area with fresh cut garlic clove -- but test on a small area first to make sure that there is no allergic reaction.

Treatments for stress related acne.

Acne around the chin is usually caused by stress. Take B complex vitamins and Beta Carotene with vitamin D for a couple of weeks and see if skin clears up. Eat fresh foods with lots of enzymes and take 750 mg of bromelain daily. Calendula and tea tree oil soap can also be used with good results. Other things to try include facial steams using lavender, eucalyptus, and thyme essential oils. If stress continues to be a problem, seek out ways to relax. Get creative or read a good book. Avoiding stress can really help clear up acne.

Do not squeeze pimples or other skin eruptions.

Squeezing can cause blood poisoning. If you must squeeze, first use hot compresses three times a day to soften the skin and bring it to a head. Prepare compress by wetting a clean cloth with hot water containing dissolved Epsom salts.

Herbs can be used to treat abscesses and boils.

Abscesses, known as boils or carbuncles, indicate a depressed immune system. Treatments for abscesses and skin problems include exposure to early morning sunlight, applications of fresh garlic juice, Aloe Vera, Echinacea, black walnut extract, tea tree oil, or liquid chlorophyll. Diet can also help. Yogurt, burdock root tea, and zinc supplements give good results. Beta Carotene, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C are also recommended. Cut out all sugar and refined food.

Many herbs can help the skin become acne free.

Many herbal blends give good results. Blend cabbage leaves with distilled witch hazel. Strain and add 2 drops of lavender oil. Use as a lotion. Other recipes call for a mix of cleavers, yellow dock, and burdock or tea tree oil, rosewater, and witch hazel. Try different remedies to see what works best for your skin. Everyone is different.

Try a cleanse to clear up acne and other skin problems.

One way to beat acne is to go on a three day cleanse. Eat apples, carrots, pineapples, and papaya with grains and fresh salads. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to flush toxins from the body. Even a 24 hour cleanse can greatly improve the skin's appearance.

Balance hormones with herbs

Hormone imbalances are often the underlying cause of skin problems. Herbs like wild yam and red clover can help to balance hormones.

Do not go to bed wearing make-up.

Wash your face every night before going to bed even if it is late. Use a gentle cleanser or mild soap with cool water. Do not use hot water on the skin. Moisturize with quality oils like almond oil with a little rose essential oil added for extra benefits. Massage gently into skin with circular motions.

* Only use one remedy at a time and give it a chance to work. Discontinue use if irritation develops. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy especially during pregnancy, while nursing, or while taking prescription medications.

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Jan's Notes

Spider bite or staff infection

Home remedy for spider bite

I woke up one morning with this painful bite on my face. Symptoms included swelling, redness, a hard core, fever under skin, itching, burning, and some nausea.

It may have been caused by a spider or perhaps it was some sort of staff infection. Either way, I decided to treat it myself with herbal remedies. If my skin problem didn't improve or got worse, then I would go to my doctor.

First I took a couple of vitamin C tablets, an astragalus capsule, and ate a small ginseng root. Next I made a poultice out of five small plantain leaves, four mint leaves, a pinch of myrrh powder, four drops of lavender essential oil, and a teaspoon of water. I applied the poultice, covered with a bandage, and left it in place for a couple of hours. This was very cooling. I chewed on some candied ginger to relieve nausea.

That night I applied a new poultice to the "bite" and covered with a bandage. The next morning the redness was starting to fade but itching was intense. I switched to a mud pack which would stay on without a bandage -- applying green clay with a few drops of lavender oil and half teaspoon of ground echinacea leaves mixed in. I washed this off and reapplied whenever itching became unbearable.

I repeated clay mud applications on day three and by day four the "bite" was healed. These home remedies worked quickly, left no scarring, and saved me a doctor bill.

Payne Mountain Farms

Buy yellowroot and other wild-harvested herbs at Payne Mountain Farms.

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Herb Articles by Janice Boling

"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... , herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer

"Ointment and Perfume Rejoice the Heart." Proverbs 27:9

Every Green Herb is a place to learn about medicinal herbs and essential oils. Visit my online store to buy wild harvested yellowroot, mullein, bee balm, and other herbal products at Payne Mountain Farms.

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