Native American Treatments for Itchy & Irritated Skin
Some of the best skin care ingredients can be found right in your kitchen cabinet—ingredients typically used in your salads, teas and even cereal. Native Americans discovered natural treatments for itchy and irritated skin, centuries ago.
Continue reading to learn about 8 skin-soothing ingredients to relieve the symptoms of troubled skin. >>
Note: This article is about the external use of herbs and other ingredients. Some of the herbs mentioned are also used internally as teas, but be aware when using herbs both internally and externally. Individuals on diuretics, blood thinners, and other medicines, or that have certain diseases have to be cautious when using herbs. Some herbs can interact with medications and supplements (as well as other herbs) making them more potent or making them ineffective. Some herbs can become problematic when used for long periods of time. Certain plants have components (such as berries) that can be toxic. Read up on any herbs you are interested in using and always consult your health care provider, to become informed about possible side effects.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Known by most as a calming tea, chamomile has numerous uses from aromatherapy to skin care. Native Americans also found chamomile useful for soothing and healing cuts, scrapes, and burns and it was used as a poultice on wounds and for clearing up acne, eczema, and other skin conditions.
You can make a warm compress from brewed chamomile tea and place on affected areas for 10 – 15 minutes or use chamomile essential oil in a soothing bath.
Chickweed (Stellaria media) was used for food and medicine. It has emollient properties and can be used to treat skin irritations. Externally it was either used in poultices or as a juice rub for itchiness, eczema, psoriasis, ulcers, and rashes.
You can make a strong infusion of chickweed tea and add to your bath water to relieve itching from dry skin, rashes, and mosquito bites, and since it has anti-inflammatory properties, you can relieve any joint pain or soreness you might have in the process.
You can also use a poultice of chickweed and apply to affected areas.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
As a child, I remember helping my mother remove those annoying weeds called dandelions that were taking over the lawn. Now we know the benefits of dandelions for both foods (in teas and salad) and medicine. Native Americans used dandelion leaves, roots, and flowers. Dandelion can be used as a tonic and diuretic for digestion, liver problems, for cleaning out the system and several additional uses, including treating hives, acne, and eczema.
Make a strong infusion of dandelion tea and add to your bathwater (or toss in a couple of dandelion tea bags).
Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia)
Known more for treating colds and strengthening the immune system, Echinacea was used in traditional Native American medicines, especially by the Central Plains Indians. The leaf and root have antibacterial and antiviral properties to assist in wound healing. Externally the juice of the root was used to treat burns, infections, and wounds and also for skin problems, including eczema.
It was also used in Native American rituals and ceremonies.
Some people use Echinacea extract directly on the skin for eczema and psoriasis, but note that if you are allergic to ragweed, marigold, and similar plants, you could have an allergic reaction.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis)
Native Americans used goldenseal for medicinal purposes because of its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and astringent and wound healing properties. It was also used as a wash to soothe skin and relieve itchy skin conditions and inflammation.
The roots can be infused and used as a wash or powdered for use in poultices.
Lavender (Lavendula Officinalis)
Lavender is one of my favorite flowers. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties, which gives us a variety of benefits, from treating bad moods to relieving stress. It is infused and used in a warm bath to calm and sooth the body and mind. It’s also helpful for eczema, psoriasis and other skin issues.
Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your bath.
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Oats (Avena sativa)
In addition to providing nourishment, oats were used for relieving itchy, irritated skin. Oats were used as a poultice and for bathing.
Compounds in oats called avenanthramide have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce dryness and scaliness. Oats are now a prominent ingredient in oatmeal masks and baths.
Place a handful of rolled oats in a muslin bag and place inside your bathwater.
You can reuse the bag by moistening it and rubbing it on chapped skin, eczema and to relieve itchy rashes, mosquito bites, and mild sunburn. You can also cook oatmeal, using a little more water than usual, so there will be more oat water. Cook for 5 minutes and then strain the oatmeal. Pour the liquid into your bath. Place the strained oatmeal in a muslin bag or a sock. Tie and place inside the tub.
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
Watercress is an herb that is often used in salads and sandwiches. It was originally from Europe but brought to North America and was used by Native Americans for its healing properties. The juice from the plant leaves was used to treat skin conditions.
Watercress tea can be made from a teaspoon of the dried or fresh herb placed in a cup of boiling water. Let it stand for 10-minutes, strain and use as a skin wash on rashes, eczema, and acne.