Eczema and Dermatitis
Dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition characterised by itchy rashes, redness and swelling. One of the most common forms of dermatitis is eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) which is caused by a combination of factors including epidermal barrier (skin) dysfunction and immune dysregulation (Kusari 2019). Skin barrier disruption facilitates the invasion of pathogenic micro-organisms, for example Staphylococcus aureus skin infections are common in people with eczema lesions (Oyoshi 2009, Totté 2016).
Evidence from laboratory and clinical research shows that manuka honey is effective for treating eczema symptoms. In addition to its broad-spectrum antibacterial activity, manuka honey inhibits the growth of various fungi that live on the skin including Epidermophyton foccosum, Microsporum spp., Tricophyton spp. (Brady 1996).
In a randomised clinical trial of radiation-induced dermatitis in 81 patients researchers reported a reduced incidence and duration of dermatitis in the manuka honey-treated group compared to the standard aqueous cream treated group (Naidoo 2011).
Manuka honey may also help with symptoms of mild eczema and mild dermatitis through its anti-inflammatory effect. A clinical trial of subjects with eczema showed that topical application of manuka honey (Medihoney™) on eczema lesions significantly improved symptoms compared with the control lesions. Researchers found that manuka honey was acting through the suppression of inflammatory responses at the molecular level in skin cells (Alangari 2017). This suggests that the efficacy of manuka honey on mild eczema and mild dermatitis is not just derived from is antimicrobial activity, but likely mediated by a combination of factors in the honey including the anti-inflammatory component.
Topical uses of manuka honey
Note: The scientific evidence discussed in this section refers to use of sterile medical grade honey and not culinary honey sold in a jar. Only sterilised medical grade honey should be used on wounds, cuts, grazes and broken skin. Medical advice should be sought for serious wounds or infections, we do not advise self-diagnosis or self-treatment with manuka honey in place of expert medical care.