The People's Perspective on Medicine

Tea Soothes Itchy Skin

Q. I have been dealing with eczema and skin allergies for about two years. My arms, neck and face were always red and itchy.

I have used lots of prescription creams. They would work 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 a cup or two of oolong tea daily after reading about it in 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.

A. Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea that falls somewhere between green tea and black tea. When leaves are plucked from the Camellia sinensis plant, they are either steamed quickly (green tea) or allowed to dry and turn black (oxidize) in the sun (black tea). Oolong is partially oxidized, providing its distinctive flavor.

Japanese researchers reported more than a decade ago that drinking oolong tea could help control eczema, also known to doctors as atopic dermatitis (Archives of Dermatology, Jan. 2001). We certainly wish that other researchers would confirm this finding, but many readers have written to report success:

“I went to some of the best dermatologists in the US, even flying from Florida to Harvard/Mass General. They gave me all sorts of remedies for eczema but I didn’t get the benefit I wanted.

I saw your recommendation and started drinking oolong tea. I went off all the other creams, etc. and it worked great. My eczema is 90 percent gone in ten days.”


“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.”

Rate this article
4.5- 8 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
Get the latest health news right in your inbox

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

Screenshots of The People's Pharmacy website on mobile devices of various sizes
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.

Showing 16 comments
Add your comment

I was diagnosed with numular eczema, and prescribed Lidex cream to treat it. It originally appeared on my forearms and shins and the steroid cream eventually cleared it. But I have a few spots on my face that seem to be perennial, and won’t go away. Being a bit sensitive to the added ugliness has become a problem, as I was told not to use the Lidex on my face.

It will also grab any liver spots and turn them red and itchy as well. And as I am older, they pop up all tooi frequently these days.

Be sure to have the dermatologist check those spots on your face to make sure they really are eczema and not something else.

I had eczema for 5 years and it came back;@ will this tea works?

I have been having skin trouble, and the biopsy report says it is Prurigo Simplex. The specialists have said it is nothing but some allergy. I have consumed many medicines including Cetrizine compounds, anti-bacterial Deepstone oil and have been given steroid injections.

Failing all, I have switched over to homeopathy medicines. To date no cure. The affected areas are back abd both legs. Frequency of itching is every six hours. I don’t consume tea. But reading the above, I seek advice. The Oolong tea is not available in India, Ahmedabad city. Please suggest a substitute. Thanks. V. B. G.

I’ve been suffering from severe eczema for nearly twenty years, and drinking green tea for a few months now. My eczema is at its worst right now…

Last year I began experiencing terrible itching and rashes on my hands and feet as well as chronic diarrhea. After lots of tests and finally a colonoscopy revealed no issues, I resigned myself to manage the diarrhea with two teaspoons of coconut every morning (like a miracle drug!). After reading about oolong tea for eczema on your website, I began drinking 4 cups a day (I make it up in the morning and drink it iced throughout the day.)
The itching and rashes went away almost immediately, and the diarrhea disappeared within two days. I had to go out of town for a long weekend, and without the tea, the itching, rashes, and diarrhea returned by Monday morning. It is an inexpensive fix for potentially debilitating symptoms! My theory is that whatever was causing the itch on my hands and feet (menopause?) was irritating my digestive track as well. The tea seems to calm both sets of symptoms.

If you suffer from itchy skin I highly recommend silk bedding. It has worked a treat for me. We swear by our silk sheets.

i have this terrible itching only on left leg (the front of this leg used to have basal cell cancers which are gone except for the red scars). The itching, however is in the calf and at times all over. I use clear caladryl and sometimes lidex (Rx). It’s worse at night under covers. Do you think oolong tea would help?

Fairly recently I have developed melia over my face, especially around my nose and under my eyes. Samples of Tazorac from my dermatologist were helpful but the cost is more than my budget will bear. Being approved only for acne and psoriasis, my insurance company will not cover it for melia. Can you tell me what causes melia and what I can do to eliminate it?

I found a big box of 100 oolong tea bags at Bib Lots for under $4.00. Asian stores carry it, Trader Joe has it and a Chinese Restaurant may sell you some, since that’s mostly what they serve when you dine there. Health stores also have it, and so do tea shops.

where do I find oolong tea? I’m in Richmond Virginia.

Does the oolong tea also help psoriasis?

Does anyone know the scientific basis or what is happening physiologically for oolong tea to bring about such results? I would also like to know if there are any side effects or contraindications from drinking this tea.My 12 year old daughter has celiac disease which causes dermatitis herpetiform type skin rashes which itches her horribly causing her to scratch and scar. This might be worth trying but I would have to mix it with something to cover the taste which she won’t like. Pediatricians have no opinion in this subject matter. Does anyone have an opinion on this?
Thank you much,
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: The best approach to dermatitis herpetiformis, we have been told, is a scrupulously gluten-free diet. We have seen nothing to suggest that oolong tea would help this condition. Our heart goes out to your poor little girl.

Since the turn of the century, the story of effectiveness of Big Pharma in the US in developing new medications has been one of absolute failure.
Even though historically Big Pharma major breakthroughs have been the result of serendipity, or accidental discoveries, Big Pharma has eliminated serendipity from its R&D processes, in favor of robotic exploration of every probable formulation. R&D at Big Pharma in the US is an incredibly expensive process.
US Big Pharma companies typically spend $5 billion on R&D EACH annually.
On the other hand, for centuries, researchers who have explored in the Amazon rain forest among the indigenous natives have found a plethora of traditional potions handed down from generation to generation that actually work on specific ailments. Just as in traditional medicine, an accurate diagnosis is essential for any cure to work.
Therefore, we should not be surprised to see that a “home remedy” is not only effective, but in fact, the “best practice” protocol for treatment of a specific ailment.

ALSO CORIANDER seems to help eat a bunch of fresh raw coriander in salads, soups or…( added at the end of cooking) etc .

Does this oolong tea have caffeine in it?
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Yes, it does have some. Oolong tea caffeine content is between green and black tea, about 50 to 75 mg per cup.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^