Dermatitis and eczema are general terms used to describe a variety of inflamed or irritated skin conditions characterized by redness, flaky skin, rashes and itching, which in turn can lead to blisters, weepy sores and scabs.
The cause of the problem can vary – though many forms of dermatitis are associated with hereditary allergic tendencies, especially to certain foods (notably dairy or wheat products). Another form, known as contact dermatitis, is the result of the skin’s hypersensitivity to an external irritant such as a type of detergent or cosmetic, or to dust, wool or some other substance. It is ofen very difficult to identify the cause, because the reaction may appear some time after the initial contact, or the skin may suddenly react adversely to a familiar substance. In all cases, however, mental stress or other emotional factors tend to aggravate or trigger an attack.
It may be necessary to experiment with different essential oils and types of treatment due to the individual nature of these types of skin problems.
Apply pure lavender oil to the affected area.
For larger areas, make up a 1 per cent lavender gel or non-oily cream (see instructions page) and apply to the affected area twice daily.
Add 8-10 drops of lavender oil to the bath water.
Other measures: try to identify and remove possible causes of irritation; assess and improve the emotional environment if possible; the essential oils of chamomile, tea tree, melissa, neroli and bergamot (bergapten-free) are also beneficial for skin complaints of this type – either used individually or in combination, employed in the bath or in creams/gels.
Lavender has good antimicrobial properties and makes an excellent disinfectant agent since it does not irritate the skin and has a pleasing floral fragrance. During the Second World War, every English home with a lavender bush was asked to harvest the flowers and take them to the local medical supplies unit for use as an antiseptic! At this time it was also used to wipe down floors and bench surfaces in field hospitals and operating theatres, as well as for swabbing wounds.
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Disinfecting clothes, nappies (diapers), for hand washing, add up to 50 drops of lavender oil to half a litre of warm water; otherwise add up to 50 drops to a liquid detergent before putting it into the washing machine.
For washing floors, surfaces, add up to 50 drops to a bucket or bowl of water and stir well before mopping or wiping surfaces.
For cleaning cuts, wounds, add a few drops of neat lavender to a small bowl of cooled boiled water and swab the damaged area using a cotton wool or gauze pad.
Disinfecting sickrooms, bathrooms, workplaces, diffuse lavender into the air – for various methods see page.
Several other essential oils are also valuable disinfectants – notably tea tree but also lemon and eucalyptus.