Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Oolong Tea Healed Eczema

More than 20 years ago, Japanese scientists found drinking a few cups of oolong tea every day can help control hard-to-heal eczema.

Eczema, also termed atopic dermatitis, can be very persistent. Dermatologists often prescribe strong steroid creams, and that usually eases the symptoms for a while. But once the cream or lotion is no longer being used, the itching and redness often return. That is why we appreciate learning about alternative treatments for eczema. One of the most intriguing is oolong tea.

Drinking Oolong Tea to Ease Eczema:

Q. I started drinking oolong tea the day after I read on your website that it could help eczema. It’s been ten days now, and my eczema is dramatically improved! Thank you. It’s hard to believe that tea can create this much healing.

During the first few days, I couldn’t drink as much as I do now, as the caffeine level was uncomfortable. (I usually consume only decaffeinated drinks.) I found a natural way to decaffeinate a tea: steep for 30 seconds, then toss out the liquid and brew the same tea bag in fresh hot water. Now I can have several cups per day. I hope everyone with eczema benefits from this wonder cure.

A. Twenty years ago, we were fascinated to read that more than half of a group of patients with recalcitrant atopic dermatitis (really bad eczema) got relief from drinking a liter of oolong tea every day (Archives of Dermatology, Jan. 2001).  The effect kicked in after a few weeks and lasted for at least six months. The investigators theorized that the polyphenols in tea might calm the allergic response linked to eczema.

To our disappointment, this study does not appear to have been followed up. A subsequent trial in Hong Kong concluded that green tea baths do not help atopic dermatitis (Medicines, Jan. 8, 2019). There is quite a difference, however, between drinking tea and bathing in it. In addition, green tea is prepared with no fermentation, while oolong tea is partially fermented.

Some readers have had a good response like yours. Keep reading for a few reports. Others have found drinking oolong tea did not help their skin condition. No doubt many people would welcome research to determine when this approach might be useful.

Oolong Tea for Eczema:

Q. During a discussion of possible remedies for eczema on your public radio program, someone mentioned that drinking oolong tea reduced his symptoms. I suffered for years with a spot of eczema on my ankle about the size of a softball. At times it was raw and at other times it was a little better, but it was a constant presence for years.

I had tried every over-the-counter treatment with no luck and had completely given up hope that it would ever go away. I had no expectation that oolong tea would work, but I started drinking it a couple of times a day for about a month. The eczema disappeared.

That was over a year ago. I stopped drinking the oolong tea long ago, and the eczema has not returned. I am simply amazed, and I cannot thank you enough for that home remedy.

Why Not Try Oolong Tea?

A. As we’ve said, we are disappointed that no studies have been done to follow up on the original Japanese research suggesting that oolong tea could helpful for hard-to-treat eczema (Archives of Dermatology, Jan. 2001). Drinking a few cups of oolong tea daily seems like a low-cost, low-risk way to deal with atopic dermatitis, the medical term for eczema.

An Early Report on Success with Oolong:

Q. I have been plagued with nummular eczema for years. It does not respond to Benadryl, prednisone or any kind of topical cortisone ointment.

I read in your column about some doctors in Japan who had people with eczema drink oolong tea to help their symptoms. So the last time I had an outbreak, I tried oolong tea and the results were amazing.   Within twenty-four hours, the itching and inflammation were gone. It took a couple of days, but the lesions disappeared and didn’t leave scars.

Why does oolong tea work so well? It is the best treatment for this awful skin condition I’ve ever seen!

A. Nummular eczema consists of coin-shaped itchy red patches on the skin. Nobody knows what causes it, but the condition is aggravated by dry skin, stress, detergent and cold weather.

A study (Arch. Dermatol. Jan. 2001) of more than 100 patients with a different kind of eczema (atopic dermatitis) showed that drinking a liter of oolong tea daily could markedly improve inflammation and itching. The researchers speculated that antioxidant polyphenols in tea have anti-allergic properties and calm the overactive immune response.    Some people have reported that their eczema improved when they took borage or flax seed oil orally. These dietary supplements are high in omega-3 fatty acids which also have anti-inflammatory activity.

Paulette reports:

I have had eczema since childhood and have tried everything….the oolong tea does work!

Nan offers these remarks on oolong tea:

There are several kinds of oolong. I use WuYi because I like the flavor.

I can get Wuyi and Se Chung at my natural foods store in Oregon, in bulk. You can get oolong online, too.

Here is more detailed information about oolong tea. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oolong

Try googling oolong and there will be places to buy it online. I use bulk, organic tea. Twinings makes it, and other famous tea makers, but I prefer the organic.

I hope this works for you.

LL is another enthusiast:

I have been dealing with eczema and skin allergies for about 2 years. My arms, neck and face were always red and ichy. I have used lots of prescription creams that worked briefly but the problems always came back in a couple of days. The prescriptions also took the color out of my skin so I had red and white patches on my arms.

In December I started drinking oolong tea daily (1-2 cups) after reading about it on the People’s Pharmacy. My skin hasn’t looked this good in years!!! So far the eczema has not returned and my skin doesn’t itch. I would absolutely recommend oolong tea for eczema!

CM took a one-and-done approach:

After reading about the success of oolong tea with eczema, I decided to give it a try. It was amazing to actually watch the red itchy spot disappear. The dermatologist had given me a cortizone cream to use which helped the itching, but never completely did away with the spot. The website I saw suggested drinking at least 1 liter in a 24-hr. period. Just to be sure, I drank almost all of a 64 oz. pitcher of tea. It’s been almost a year and it’s never returned.

We should note that most people appear to need to continue drinking it for quite a while, rather than relying on a single treatment. But we are pleased to learn that it worked.

Manil is among the disappointed:

I’ve been trying oolong tea for the past one month and so far it has not helped my oozing eczema. I drink two tea bags a day in 4 mugs.

Perhaps as scientists pay more attention to polyphenols and other phytonutrients, they will encourage researchers to look more closely at this “treatment,” which is more like a home remedy.

If you like inexpensive, practical solutions to problems like eczema, you may want to check out our book from National Geographic, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. Here is a link to our shopping cart.

Rate this article
4.6- 79 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.