by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News
There are several testimonials by people using virgin coconut oil (VCO) for improving scalp conditions, hair, and skin issues. But it’s doubtful that a certified dermatologist would recommend that for most skin issues.
It’s more likely that an external skin condition known as atopic dermatitis (AD), which causes excess dryness, inflammation, and pruritus (itching) will be prescribed a cortecosteroid cream to apply topically. AD also creates a friendly environment for infection from Staphylococcus aureus or S. aureus.
Fortunately, most S. aureus bacteria are not the resistant type known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). But they infect the skin in the same manner, often appearing in the nose and sometimes the respiratory tract. The more extreme cases of atopic dermatitis are known as eczema, which can result in uncomfortable and sensitive open oozing sores.
Cortecosteroids are topical steroid creams commonly prescribed for AD conditions. They are hydrocortisone, hydrocortisone acetate, cortisone acetate, tixocortol pivalate, prednisolone, methylprednisolone, and prednisone. These are the synthetic steroid chemical names that are used in different brand name creams, salves, and lotions.
The actual active steroid component is a small fraction of the total volume of these topical medications. They are, at least initially, effective. But adverse side effects are common. They include resistance to the topical steroid drugs making them ineffective, rashes, steroid allergic reactions, dermal atrophy or skin destruction, even the risk of diabetes mellitus increases with long term intense topical cortecosteroid use. (Source)
Virgin Coconut Oil Is a Safer Effective Topical Solution for Atopic Dermatitis Conditions
The University of Central Florida Medical School offered a paper published early in 2017 titled “Coconut oil: The future of atopic dermatitis treatment?” It is an article citing two earlier studies that clinically tested virgin coconut oil (VCO) for efficacy and safety with VCO for skin conditions. The paper’s conclusion gave a green light for more studies.
Overall, VCO appears to be an emerging treatment for AD due to its safety and ability to both combat the suggested pathogenesis of AD and provide clinical improvement. More extensive trials that comprehensively examine the positive and negative effects of treating AD with VCO are indicated.
The Central Florida Medical School article by Anand S. Desal promoted the need for emollients effective enough to replace cortecosteroids that have a high adverse effect profile. It mentions virgin coconut oil as a “largely understudied emollient that may provide an economic and efficacious alternative to established treatments.”
The first study used in that paper was performed in the Philippines Skin and Cancer Foundation and published in the journal Dermatitis in 2008. It was titled “Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis.”
The researchers compared before and after SCORAD, an index to determine levels of atopic dermatitis (AD) severity, and levels of S. aureas colonies on the skin among 26 actual AD clinic outpatients among those randomly applying either virgin coconut oil (VCO) to virgin olive oil (VOO).
The study concluded that the moisturizing effects of both VCO and VOO were similar, VCO was more useful for effectively decreasing S. aureas bacterial colonization and fungi on the AD areas of the skin. (Source)
The second study presented by the Central Florida Medical School paper was performed in the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Manila, Philippines and published in the International Journal of Dermatology in 2013. This study: “The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial” used a larger number of actual AD clinical patients, 117.
This time the compared double-blind samplings were a mineral oil and VCO. As the title states, the concerns were focused on skin qualities of moisturizing permeability and decreased SCORAD, this time exclusively among AD children aged 1 to 13. Their results showed that “… although both oils showed beneficial effects on SCORAD, TEWL [Transepidermal water loss], and skin capacitance values, VCO was significantly better in improving all outcomes.” (Source)
The third and most recent paper cited in the Central Florida Medical School paper, which is only available at the time of this writing as a pre-publication preview, is from the Department of Paediatric Dermatology, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Birmingham, UK, but published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology late 2016.
This last paper is merely a detailed overview of all the types of topical medications available for children and adults with various types and levels of AD. It covers the downside of adverse reactions with topical cortercosteroids while mentioning that emoliants “…are the main treatment for all grades of AD. The normally elastic and protective skin barrier is impaired in AD and emollients combat xerosis and transepidermal water loss.”
This paper adds, “Vegetable oils are popular in South Asia, for example, olive, almond, and mustard oil – the latter can be irritant. Some oils solidify in cold climates but soften at body temperature, for example, coconut oil.” (Source)
The first two papers cited were studies of South Asian origin using traditional oils compared to also traditional coconut oil. It’s obvious that outside this region where coconut oil is part of its cultures, very little attention has been given to this safest and most efficacious topical application to manage AD symptoms.
Despite the recorded facts of adverse reactions from pharmaceutical remedies, modern western doctors prescribe more expensive topical cortecosteroids while ignoring coconut oils that are proven safe, effective, and not expensive.
The fact that coconut oil is natural and cannot be patented for exclusive pharmaceutical marketing and profits will probably keep coconut oil a secret from most MDs and dermatologists. They may not know better, but you should. There’s even quite a bit more peer reviewed information under the sub-heading Coconut Oil and Skin on this page.
Virgin Coconut Oil:
How it has changed people’s lives and how it can change yours!