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My Natural Eczema Skincare Routine That Healed My Skin

by Kaitlynn Fenley
Kaitlynn applying tallow balm in the mirror

Learn about my natural eczema skin care routine that healed my skin for good. Every single time I went to the doctor for my atopic dermatitis I got the same response: “eczema isn’t caused by food, it could be anything your skin is contacting though. Here’s some steroid cream.” It turns out that the main thing causing my eczema was the steroid cream I was prescribed. After years of using steroid cream, I knew it was time to switch to all natural skincare products, so I could truly heal my eczema.

Natural Skincare Products for Eczema

Every single time I went to the doctor for my atopic dermatitis I got the same response: “eczema isn’t caused by food, it could be anything your skin is contacting though. Here’s some steroid cream.”

It turns out that the main thing causing my eczema was the steroid cream I was prescribed. I put steroid cream on my skin for eight years. I didn’t lather myself in steroid cream (thankfully), but I did use a small amount on all of my eczema patches about every two days.  Have you ever read that “discontinue after two weeks of use” statement in microscopic font on the pamphlet inside the steroid cream box you probably threw away? That statement is there because your skin can literally become addicted to the steroid cream if use it for more than two weeks.

Cortisone creams and ointments were causing my eczema, because they are addictive. I was addicted to the topical medication I was being prescribed. So, if I went two days without the cream, the eczema came back because the itchiness and rash were side effects of withdrawal. All the chemicals and preservatives in the steroid cream also threw my skin microbiome off-balance, exacerbating my symptoms. 

After years of using steroid cream, I knew it was time to switch to all natural skincare products, so I could truly heal my eczema.

Natural Facial Products for Eczema

When I decided to try healing my eczema for good, I focused in on simplifying my skincare routine. The less I put on my skin the better my skin healed. When trying to figure out how to make my eczema go away, I always wanted to try new things. I kept adding, and adding more and more things that were supposed to help my skin heal… but it turns out that I was making everything worse. When I simplified, not only the number of things I put on my skin but also the ingredients, everything changed.

I decided I would use two natural facial products, and not wear makeup, in order to let my skin heal. I switched to all natural bar soap for facial cleansing, and handmade tallow balm for moisturizer.

Topical Steroid Cream Withdrawl

I ditched the Steroid Cream & voluntarily went through withdrawal in January of 2017. Once I found a skincare routine that works, I stuck to it! Since then, I have not tried any new skincare. I found what works for me and there is no sense in switching it up.

If you’ve used steroid cream for an extended period of time, talk to your doctor about stopping. Stopping extended use of steroid cream means that you will withdraw from it because it is an addictive drug. Also, if you choose to quit the steroid cream and go through withdrawal, prepare to look like a molting lizard… in the driest desert. Prepare to be so itchy you feel insane, and to be in pain. I personally broke out in multiple rashes and had chills. It was not easy. I do have an extremely supportive and loving husband who helped me through this.

It took about 3 weeks total for the withdrawals to stop. After, I looked like a whole new person. My skin was actually glowing for the first time ever and all of the eczema was gone! Until I got too excited and tried some face serum I never used before. That’s when the eczema returned on my eyelids. I obviously discontinued the use of the face serum and once again I’m eczema free! 

How did I cope and care for my skin while going through withdrawals? With the most natural skincare products and a lot of self-control. I also gave up all makeup for a few months. I wore no make-up at all for about three months, then gradually added back in mascara and my eyebrow pencil. Now I use Toups and Co. Organics makeup with no problems!

Healing Eczema Skincare Routine

  • Moisturize with simple natural ingredients
  • Facial Steams, then moisturize
    • I like to do a facial steam with green tea leaves and hot water. Simply add hot water to a bowl with green tea. Drape a towel over your head and create a mini sauna for your face over the bowl. This opens the pores and allows for better absorption of moisturizer.
  • I used soap in extreme moderation
    • During topical steroid withdrawal, I used soap only once a week. While healing, I only washed the necessary body parts with soap daily (i.e. armpits, butt, vagina). I rinsed everything else with warm water. I bathed my whole body with soap only once a week (face included). I think this was vital in rebuilding my skin microbiome. The soap I use is from Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve. My favorite is the Adzuki bean soap, which has a lot of ingredients that can help boost the good microbes on skin. I love this company, and it’s especially convenient that they have sample sized soaps you can buy to test out!
  • Exfoliating for Eczema
    • I used a soft bamboo bristle exfoliating brush. While withdrawing, I dry brushed all my eczema patches and in the shower I used it with just water, no soap.

Exfoliating Eczema

Exfoliating was vital in healing my eczema. It aided in detoxing the steroids by removing all my dead and damaged skin cells. Exfoliating also helped with blood flow and skin regeneration. While withdrawing, I dry brushed all my eczema patches, and in the shower I used a bamboo exfoliating brush with just water, no soap. I eventually switched to using an exfoliating glove from Wildpier and I love it; I exfoliate my face and body with it.

Does Coconut Oil Help Eczema?

You might be wondering if a thick moisturizer like coconut oil is good for eczema. It is! I’ve used coconut oil to moisturize in the past, but I prefer tallow balm. Toups and Co. Organics Tallow Balm was basically magic for my skin. During steroid cream withdrawal I put this tallow balm on my face immediately after exfoliating with warm water. I attribute my quick skin healing to tallow balm, and I’ve even started to make my own.

The Best Soap For Eczema

The best soap for eczema is natural bar soap that does not contain any artificial ingredients. This is the only brand of soap I use. I specifically picked their adzuki bean soap because I figured my skin microbes may thrive when exposed to healthy food sources like beans. It works for me, so I guess I chose the right one. I’ve just stuck to this soap since I cured my eczema. Not a lot of science here, just a little microbiome intuition.

Products used when I cured my eczema naturally, soap and tallow balm

Epsom Salt For Eczema

Epsom salt baths or soaks were fantastic for my skin! Not only did the salt water help to rebalance my skin microbiome and soothe my eczema, it also was a great source of transdermal magnesium to aid in hormone balance. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body, and is vital in the healing process. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, which can be absorbed through the skin and used to regulate stress and healing.

Bleach Baths For Eczema, are they good or bad?

I’ve heard that bleach baths help some people with itching relief, but I never took one. My goal was to rebalance and rebuild my skin microbiome, not to kill all the microbes on my skin, which bleach baths do. My eczema patches did contain staphylococcus aureus (read more about that here) but I never took antibiotics or bleach baths to treat it. I figured if I could increase the microbial biodiversity on my skin, that was a better approach. I recolonized my skin by taking apple cider vinegar baths, yogurt baths, playing in my garden often, and eating a lot of fermented foods.

Can Sweat Cause Eczema?

Sweat does not usually cause eczema, but chemical heavy antiperspirant deodorant can disrupt your skin microbiome, and cause itching and rashes. Sweating is a natural process our bodies are meant to do. Along with thermoregulation, eccrine sweat is VITAL for skin barrier health. Sweating can even help to balance out the skin microbiome and help boost skin barrier integrity. (Here are two links to some science on that 1. 2.) Sometimes I choose to not wash up immediately after working out because my skin feels so good from sweat.

Eczema in Armpits

I had eczema in my armpits, mainly because I was using deodorant that contained chemical additives that triggered my eczema. One of my WORST eczema patches stretched from my armpit down to my elbow. When I quit antiperspirant deodorant and switched to natural deodorant, allowing body to naturally sweat, it went away! It took months and many stinky days, but it’s gone! I love using Chagrin Valley’s line of deodorant.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Eczema

Apple cider vinegar helped with my eczema. While going through withdrawal and trying to balance out/ recolonize my skin microbiome, I sprayed a diluted apple cider vinegar mixture on my body. I would also add a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to my epsom salt baths.

I made it with 1 ounce raw ACV with the mother, 3 ounces freshly brewed green tea and 5 drops of red thyme essential oil. Mostly, I liked to spray it on my armpits because eczema there was HORRIBLE.

Other Eczema Blogs to Read

Reference Material

The Skin Microbiome

What lives on our skin: ecology, genomics and therapeutic opportunities of the skin microbiome

Microbiota in Healthy Skin and in Atopic Eczema

Structure and function of the human skin microbiome

Evidence that Human Skin Microbiome Dysbiosis Promotes Atopic Dermatitis

author avatar
Kaitlynn Fenley Author, Educator, Food Microbiologist
Kaitlynn is a food microbiologist and fermentation expert teaching people how to ferment foods and drinks at home.

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Leave a Comment


Mick March 3, 2019 - 3:49 am


Love your series and how you are viewing the world thru the lense of microbes. Look after them and they look after you.

I have an issue with high histamine food – leading to psychological and physical symptoms.. So it’s seems I can’t have cultured foods as they tend to be high on histamine – would you have any suggestions how to incorporated cultured veggies into my diet without causing me histamine issues?


Mimzy March 28, 2019 - 10:44 pm

I’m so glad I found your blog! You’re speaking about the things I’ve somehow known but haven’t really really started doing. My skin is very similar to yours and has been for 8 years also.
I read also that vitamin D can make a huge difference to eczema. There are many tests how higher intakes of vitamin D cures eczema skin. Do you have any idea about this?
I once tried to withdraw my skin off steroid creams but it really was a nightmare. Does it get easier during the days or is it the same until it completely clears off? I wish we had the same products you’re telling in my country.
Also I would like to say that your blog is one of the best blogs I’ve read. Good writing, pictures and information. 🙂

Cultured Guru April 30, 2019 - 4:31 pm

Thank you!

For me, withdrawal improved a bit each day. It got worse for about a week, then I found it started to improve daily, itching and peeling less each day.

Also, about vitamin D… I find it does help but when it comes from the sun! I try to be in the sun for at least 20 minutes a day for natural vitamin D.

Stevie November 9, 2019 - 3:55 am

Hi there, thank you for your blog (and honesty!). I’ve suffered pretty severe eczema all over my body for a long time and, as a result of scratching, it’s lead to very dark and patchy hyperpigmentation. I’m looking at some sort of procedure like chemical peels or laser to reduce this scarring, but I’m wondering if your diet/methods have had any effect on the scars that you already had before beginning this intense detoxification?

Kaitlynn Fenley November 10, 2019 - 6:12 pm

I don’t have much scarring. I have a small scar on my left eyelid and some skin discoloration on my face and arms where I used to use the steroid cream. I attribute my skin healing so well to a very nutrient-rich diet and using tallow balm for moisturizer. : )

LIsa Miller December 16, 2019 - 7:51 pm

Hi Kaitlynn, thanks so much for you blog. I was able to be eczema free by going off gluten/cow dairy and I detoxed my body and went on supplements (I saw a naturopath). There were times when I would be flare free for a couple years but then I’d get a minor flare. This year has been different. The year before I three cortisone shots in my heel for plantar fasciitis and then anesthesia for a surgery. I also just turned 51 and I’m wondering if my hormones are going haywire. I had a flare in July of this year and it went on for a few months, like it normally does (my flares take months to run its course) and then in November – BAM – I had a horrible flare again. Red, angry eyelids and it kept spreading and then I started getting bumps, which I never used to get. I even got bumps along my lips (and they are irritated). I feel like a big mess!! DO you know if eczema on the lips is common. They’re not dry, just bumpy. Could it be a bacterial infection? I was thinking of doing a juice fast (mostly vegetable). Do you think that helps with eczema? 🙂

Kaitlynn Fenley December 20, 2019 - 10:11 pm

hey there, I cannot provide you with medical advice and I have to suggest seeing your doctor about your eczema issues. Personally, I still get small flares occasionally, usually because I get too adventurous with new skincare products and trying to wear new types of makeup. I wish I could help, but all I can do is share my own experience with eczema.

Alicia June 28, 2020 - 7:14 pm

Hi Kaitlynn,
I know this is an older post, but I just came across it and had a question- do you use sunscreen? I have put myself on a similar regimen in an attempt to clear my rosacea. I’ve cleaned up my diet (sugar was a big one for me), am trying to incorporate your fermented veggies into every meal (or taking Biome Beauty otherwise), and have radically simplified by skin care routine. Since almost all commercial products, even the “natural” ones, are preserved in such a way that using them interferes with the skin’s microbiome, I’m having difficulty finding a sunscreen that won’t mess up my progress. It’s easy enough to eschew soap and moisturizer or use very simple , natural products occasionally, but sun protection has me stumped.

Kaitlynn Fenley June 28, 2020 - 9:07 pm

I do use sunscreen! Not daily, but when I’m going to be in the sun longer than 20 minutes I use it. Other than that I like to wear light long sleeves and hats for physical sun protection. The only sunscreen that has worked great for me without bothering my eczema is the non-nano mineral sunscreen from Trader Joe’s. I used it all last summer and it was perfect.

Alicia July 4, 2020 - 5:54 pm

Thanks so much for the reply! I will look for that sunscreen.

Pema December 3, 2020 - 2:48 pm

Hi Kaitlynn! I have so much I would like to share and ask you (eczema healed for 20 years with a similar diet, but now dealing with terrible flare) To be efficient and to the point, I would LOVE to know your microb wisdom perspective on fermented foods, particularly sauerkraut, and having a parasite. And also your thoughts on sauerkraut and SIBO. Parasite question first. Thank you!!-Pema

Kaitlynn Fenley December 3, 2020 - 2:58 pm

Hi there,

I have quite a few blogs that discuss sauerkraut and overall microbiome health. Please see the science blog section of our website.

If you have a parasite or SIBO you need to be treated by medical professionals, such as a gastroenterologist and a registered dietician. I am not a medical professional, and I do not give others advice on their personal medical conditions.

Lauren March 24, 2021 - 10:21 am

Hi Kaitlynn! I came across one of your blog posts last week while searching for a cream that my naturopathic doctor recommended that supposedly helps heal the skin’s microbiome. Once I found your blog, I looked no further for the other stuff. I recently moved back home to Covington, LA – funny that you live so close to me 🙂 I graduated from Southeastern. I’ve also been following a plant-based diet (mostly whole foods) for the last 4 years. I looked at where I could purchase your kimchi and sauerkraut products locally, and it looked like Whole Foods in Mandeville had it, so I went there and bought one of every variety that had, lol! I also purchased the Toups balm and the Adzuki bean soap – both arrived today. I was a little disappointed that the Toups stuff isn’t vegan, but that’s okay – I’ll see if it works.

By the way, your products are delicious! I love the kimchi – this is something that I haven’t enjoyed in the past when trying it from restaurants – my sister would bring home a huge container of it, and it would stink up the entire kitchen. Yours, however, is delicious and not stinky at all 🙂 I would love to learn more about how to ferment my own veggies, so I’ll be coming back to your site. I’m also interested in your courses, so I’ll be on the lookout for any future opportunities. Thanks for the insights!

Kris January 15, 2022 - 3:56 am

We have been battling eczema with my three year old son since he was born. He has it on his neck, elbows and back of the legs badly. After reading your blog and some other research papers I took him off the steroid cream. I ditched all the creams. I bought a tallow balm here in Australia. I focused on his sores with antiseptic powder and an ant bacterial cream mix. The sores healed and as soon as they did I used the tallow balm barrier morning and night and anytime he was itchy. Also before swimming. After 1 month he didn’t have a sore on him. His skin is looking beautiful and it is starting to look like it is balancing and becoming self sustained with natural oils. Thank you! I hope it stays this way. His personality has changed to outgoing and happy. Thank you again.

Stacey June 18, 2022 - 10:44 am

Hi Kris. Thank you so much for sharing your success story. I am going through similar with my three year old. If I’m interested in the antiseptic powder and antibacterial cream mix, would you be able to share what you used ?