Well, the answer is complicated!
Coconut oil has been used on the skin for centuries around the world and it does indeed seem to have some antibacterial and some moisturising properties. Many people have found that replacing their petroleum-based emollient with coconut oil has led to an immediate improvement in their skin.
But there are also issues with coconut oil that should sound a note of caution with eczema sufferers.
It Can Cause Reactions
People with eczema are more likely to have other allergies, and even though they’re properly classed as a fruit not a nut, coconuts are an allergen and can cause contact dermatitis when applied topically. That means there’s a significant number of eczema sufferers who shouldn’t use coconut oil or toiletries containing coconut on their skin.
It’s Not The Best Emollient
Coconut oil can be a bit of a pain to apply! It can get runny in the heat and isn’t the easiest emollient for staying put on problem areas. Ointments or creams are more convenient when you’re having to moisturise three or four times a day to keep eczema under control.
Ointments are better emollients in other ways too: while coconut oil is both an emollient and an occlusive, ointments made with oils and beeswax are humectants as well, meaning they soften, protect and draw moisture into the skin for even more intense hydration.
It Can Clog Pores
It’s also worth noting that those who are prone to acne should probably avoid putting coconut on their skin, as it has a high comedogenic factor (which means it clogs pores and can cause spots).
It Doesn’t Contain All The Nutrients Eczema Sufferers Need
Coconut doesn’t contain any essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are nutrients that eczema sufferers are often deficient in. EFAs are vital to repairing and regenerating the skin barrier, so it’s pretty important to find them either in your diet, or - more effectively - put them straight onto your skin. Oils that are rich in EFAs include hemp seed, olive, safflower, sunflower: the very oils that Purepotions use to make Skin Salvation, in fact! Using these nourishing oils long-term feeds the skin with what it needs to maintain a barrier against dehydration and irritants.
So in summary: coconut oil works wonders for some, but not all! If you have sensitive skin you may be not able to tolerate coconut topically, and it might be worth considering using an EFA-rich beeswax-based ointment instead!
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.