Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About MyEczemaTeam

Turmeric for Eczema: Is It Effective?

Posted on July 13, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D.
Article written by
Imee Williams

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that is commonly used in Indian cuisine. It contains an active, nontoxic ingredient called curcumin, which has been used to treat various skin conditions and other disorders as far back as 4,000 years ago. Today, turmeric is widely used for various medicinal purposes in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of chronic diseases.

Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema. It causes dry skin that may be itchy, inflamed, and discolored (red, purple, brown, or ashen, depending on a person’s skin color). There are currently 31 million Americans living with eczema. Although there is no cure for the condition, limited but growing evidence suggests that oral or topical turmeric may help relieve symptoms related to eczema.

Turmeric may offer many benefits as a low-cost, natural remedy for eczema. However, it is important to discuss any new treatment options (even home remedies) with your health care provider or dermatologist before starting them. In general, turmeric should be used as a complement to — not a replacement for — your other treatments for eczema.

Topical Curcumin and Turmeric for Eczema

Turmeric contains a key ingredient called curcumin. Various studies have found curcumin to have antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help protect sensitive skin. It may also affect the immune system cells that are in part responsible for eczema. Many topical products containing curcumin — such as ointments, soaps, and cosmetics — are sold throughout Asia, the Middle East, and the United States.

In a clinical study conducted in India, participants treated their eczema with turmeric cream, combined with other herbal extracts. After four weeks, they experienced significant improvements to their symptoms, including discoloration, swelling, itching, scaling, and thickening of the affected area. However, this study had a small sample size, and the other ingredients may have contributed to the results. Further research is necessary to assess the long-term effectiveness of topical turmeric.

Food and Supplemental Curcumin and Turmeric for Eczema

Various clinical trials have found supplemental curcumin products, such as tablets and capsules, to be safe for adults. However, research is limited as to the effectiveness of turmeric supplements in treating eczema. One study examined the effects of using turmeric capsules for uremic pruritus (a symptom of renal disease that causes excessive itching). After eight weeks of taking the capsules three times daily, subjects reported improvements to their itchy skin and overall skin condition. Turmeric is also believed to help improve symptoms of psoriasis, another inflammatory skin condition.

To use turmeric, you can also skip the supplements and consume it in dishes and beverages such as curries, soups, and teas. Studies have found turmeric mixed with black pepper (which contains the main active ingredient piperine) helps increase the body’s absorption of curcumin by 2,000 percent. Golden milk, a recipe that has been used for more than 4,000 years, combines turmeric and black pepper. A recipe for golden milk, along with other dishes using turmeric, can be found on the National Eczema Association website.

Limitations and Side Effects of Turmeric

Whether or not turmeric improves your eczema, taking or using the spice is unlikely to cause harm. Turmeric and curcumin extracts are safe even at high doses, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognizes curcumin as a safe compound that does not cause any serious side effects.

Still, it is important to note the limitations of using turmeric as a treatment. For example, topical turmeric will temporarily stain the skin a yellow color, as well as fabrics. Experts have also found curcumin to be poorly bioavailable — in other words, curcumin breaks down quickly in the body and cannot be easily absorbed by targeted organs.

Additionally, some people have reported mild side effects from topical and supplemental turmeric, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Yellow stool
  • Headache
  • Rash

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyEczemaTeam is the social network for people with eczema and their loved ones. Nearly 40,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with eczema.

Have you tried turmeric for your eczema? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MyEczemaTeam.

Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D. is a dermatologist at the Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Imee Williams is a freelance writer and Fulbright scholar, with a B.S. in neuroscience from Washington State University. Learn more about her here.

Recent articles

People with eczema often rely on over-the-counter moisturizers (also known as emollients) to...

Shea Butter for Eczema: Effectiveness, Benefits, and Uses

People with eczema often rely on over-the-counter moisturizers (also known as emollients) to...
Many effective treatment options and remedies are available to help manage flare-ups and reduce...

Eczema Treatment: Understanding Over-the-Counter Options

Many effective treatment options and remedies are available to help manage flare-ups and reduce...
An itchy, dry scalp can be caused by a number of skin conditions, such as psoriasis, head lice,...

Scalp Eczema: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

An itchy, dry scalp can be caused by a number of skin conditions, such as psoriasis, head lice,...
Developing eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) around your eyes can be painful, disruptive,...

Treating Eczema Around Your Eyes

Developing eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) around your eyes can be painful, disruptive,...
Eczema is not a contagious condition. It’s a result of an overactivation of the immune system....

Is Eczema Contagious?

Eczema is not a contagious condition. It’s a result of an overactivation of the immune system....
Many people living with eczema deal with challenges — both physical and social — in their work...

Working With Eczema: Does Your Boss Understand?

Many people living with eczema deal with challenges — both physical and social — in their work...
Tea tree oil is an essential oil with many therapeutic properties that may make it helpful in...

Tea Tree Oil for Eczema: Can It Help?

Tea tree oil is an essential oil with many therapeutic properties that may make it helpful in...
Living with a skin condition can impact every part of your life, from your sleep schedule to...

Watch on Demand: Life With a Skin Condition — Candid Conversations

Living with a skin condition can impact every part of your life, from your sleep schedule to...
Eczema and scabies have some similar signs and symptoms, such as intense itching, scaly patches,...

Eczema vs. Scabies: How They Differ

Eczema and scabies have some similar signs and symptoms, such as intense itching, scaly patches,...
What you eat can significantly impact your skin — in fact, 70 percent of your immune system is...

Watch on Demand: Diet, Mindfulness, and Yoga for Self-Care

What you eat can significantly impact your skin — in fact, 70 percent of your immune system is...
MyEczemaTeam My eczema Team

Two Ways to Get Started with MyEczemaTeam

Become a Member

Connect with others who are living with eczema. Get members only access to emotional support, advice, treatment insights, and more.

sign up

Become a Subscriber

Get the latest articles about eczema sent to your inbox.

Not now, thanks

Privacy policy
MyEczemaTeam My eczema Team

Thank you for signing up.

close