Can Essential Oils Help Dry, Itchy Skin?

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Dry, itchy skin can happen anywhere, although it most commonly occurs on the arms, thighs, lower legs and sides of your abdomen. The primary cause of dry skin is dry air, which can lead to moisture loss in your skin, along with cracking, peeling, irritation and itching. Essential oils offer a natural method for promoting overall skin health while soothing the itch and healing your dry skin. As an added bonus, these oils, which are also commonly used in aromatherapy, add pleasant fragrance to your moisturizing routine.

Choosing Essential Oils

Essential oils are derived from the barks, roots, leaves and other fragrant parts of plants. In addition to adding moisture to your skin, many essential oils -- including lavender -- soothe skin and have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Essential oils can also help alleviate dryness and itching associated with conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or rashes. In general, essential oils such as lemon, geranium, neroli, lavender, chamomile and sandalwood are soothing to chapped, dry skin. Additionally, oils of juniper, rosemary, bergamot, cedarwood, myrrh, patchouli, carrot seed and yarrow ease itching associated with eczema. Papaya, tea tree and guava oils are well suited to skin affected by psoriasis.

Choosing Carrier Oils

To avoid irritating your skin, dilute the essential oils with a carrier oil. Carrier oils, which are derived from the fatty parts of a plant such as the nuts and seeds, transport the essential oil into your skin and maximize its therapeutic benefits. Pick base oils that are rich in fatty acids, vitamins and other nutrients to nourish and soothe dry, itchy skin. Some examples include avocado oil, which is easily absorbed and vitamin rich; castor oil, which aids healing and alleviates chapping; jojoba oil, which lubricates and softens dry skin; and macadamia oil, which is rich in palmitoleic acid, found in the sebum produced by young skin.

Creating Hydrating, Soothing Blends

Look for moisturizers that contain skin-soothing essential oils or make your own dry, itchy skin treatment. For example, create an itch-preventing blend by combining five drops of essential oil such as frankincense, yarrow or palmarosa with every 1 teaspoon of base oils such as kukui nut oil and jojoba oil. Alternatively, make an ultrarich oil for moisturizing skin at night by combining 10 drops of borage seed, evening primrose or jojoba oil for every 1 teaspoon of base oil, along with another 10 drops of the essential oils of your choice.

Using Essential Oils on Skin

Apply your essential oil blend to clean skin, massaging it into the affected area as you would use lotion. Let the mixture sit for a minute or two and then blot any excess oil from your skin with a clean tissue. Apply moisturizing essential oils two or three times daily until your skin normalizes. Applying the oils while your skin is still damp after bathing helps trap moisture in your skin, increasing the moisturizing, soothing effects. If your dry skin persists or worsens, see a dermatologist or other medical professional.