Coconut oil is my favorite topical oil for AD and an excellent base for natural lotions and cleansers for people with AD. It contains lauric acid, which is known to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects, and it has been shown to positively impact the skin barrier. In a study of 117 children with mild to moderate AD, the topical application of 10 mL of virgin coconut oil for eight weeks was found to reduce the severity of AD by about 30% more than mineral oil.13 I have, personally and with patients, experienced a reduction in leaky skin using the Daily Essentials Step 1 as a cleanser, which has virgin coconut oil as a primary ingredient. While it is designed for the face, I have found it helpful for hands and other irritated areas of skin on the body.
Certain extracts of botanicals have shown some promising results in the research with topical applications, including St. John’s wort, licorice extract, willow bark, gentian as well as topical use of evening primrose oil.17 Topical use of manuka honey has been shown to inhibit S. aureus proliferation and reduce inflammation and shows promise in managing AD.18 Any of these can be included in a topical made by a compounding pharmacy.
Topical use of sesame seed oil also shows some promise in reducing the need for children with AD to use topical corticosteroid treatment.14 I recommend avoiding olive oil because it has been shown to worsen AD.15 5% vitamin E has been shown to help AD.16 I would recommend adding vitamin E to a compounded formula or looking for it in the topical salves and lotions you may recommend.A Naturopathic Approach to Leaky Skin and Atopic Dermatitis – Page 2 of 2 – Townsend Letter