Coconut Oil and Eczema


By Emily Delzell

Published On: Oct 7, 2022

Last Updated On: Apr 10, 2024

Can coconut oil really help soothe eczema symptoms, like itchy skin and a damaged skin barrier? The short answer: It depends.

How can coconut oil help eczema?

Coconut oil has the natural ability to penetrate the skin quickly and efficiently, which can boost hydration, improve skin elasticity, fight itch and reduce the chances of infection.

Furthermore, coconut oil contains lauric acid, a nutritious fatty acid, or lipid, also found in breast milk. Lauric acid is used to develop monolaurin, which is an antimicrobial agent that can fight bacteria, fungi, yeast, viruses and other pathogens. It also includes antioxidants which provide an extra boost to the immune system. In other words, when you hear people talk about coconut oil having antimicrobial properties and anti-inflammatory properties beneficial to eczema, they are correct.

A 2018 study found that coconut oil is effective at reducing the presence of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other pathogens when used topically on atopic dermatitis.1

Types of coconut oil

Coconut oil comes in many different forms. Cold-pressed coconut oil and virgin coconut oil are the two recommended types for topical use on skin. Cold-pressed and virgin methods of oil extraction do not use harsh chemicals like some methods do, which could further irritate skin.

Coconut oil can also be an ingredient in soaps, emollients and lotions. Some supplements might also contain coconut oil. When buying coconut oil products, it’s important to look at any other ingredients in the product that could potentially make eczema worse and cause itchy skin.

OK, but will coconut oil help my eczema?

That’s where the “It depends,” answer comes into play. It’s important to remember that eczema is unique to every individual. While applying coconut oil to eczema skin has been known to help many people soothe their symptoms, coconut oil is also known to trigger an allergic reaction for some people. 

If you know you are allergic to coconut, opt for another option. Always consult with your doctor before you use coconut oil or try a new product on your skin.


1. Varma SR, Sivaprakasam TO, Arumugam I, et al. In vitro anti-inflammatory and skin protective properties of Virgin coconut oil. J Tradit Complement Med. 2018;9(1):5-14. Published 2018 Jan 17. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2017.06.012

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