How Coconut Oil Saved My Hide

Originally written on March 13, 2015
It was one year ago today that I walked into our local GNC store on a cool, windy Thursday afternoon and forked over $14.99 (plus VA sales tax) for a jar of Nutriva virgin, organic coconut oil. Such a transaction would not seem that out of the ordinary, but the sheer desperation of this act on my part was evidenced by the fact that I have had a lifelong aversion to any product containing coconut or even the slightest hint of coconut. Plus what kind of idiot would pay $14.99 for an item that, in retrospect, could be found at most local grocery stores for 40% less. But that was in fact the best fifteen bucks I ever spent.
I was driven to this point by a very severe dermatitis affecting my forehead, ears, and scalp for more than a year, with my condition peaking near Halloween, which was fitting in that the flaking, swollen, red flesh on my face, and ears and neck would have made it easy for me to pass for a character on “Walking Dead” with no need for makeup.

Head Shot_height of infection_cropped.png


Several trips to the dermatologist, a diagnosis of “sebhorreic/atopic dermatitis” in conjunction with staph infection, courses of sulfa antibiotics and oral and topical steroids brought my condition down to a more manageable level, yet I was still left with an outbreak on my forehead and ears, sometimes resembling a second-degree burn, that lasted for many months thereafter. The dermatologist noted that this was likely to be a chronic condition that would need to be controlled with occasional use of those topical steroids, which in fact really did little for me once the worst of the outbreak had passed.

Hoping to avoid the steroid route all together, I spent many hours on the web researching “alternative” treatments. Being a scientist by training, I am normally very skeptical about “natural” remedies, particularly those advertised online. However, one that kept popping up as a successful treatment for dermatitis was coconut oil. There are even a handful of legitimate medical studies that seem to show the efficacy of topical coconut oil use, with at least some of the benefits ascribed to the antimicrobial properties of the medium-chain fatty acids that are found in abundance in coconut oil (and not many other natural sources).

Lauric acid

I decided to give this treatment a try last March 13, and within only a few days (see photo documentation), the affected areas of skin completely healed, after many, many months in that static, infected condition. I continued to use the oil on those areas regularly for the next few months, then somewhat less thereafter. Occasionally I will feel some “twinge” in those areas that might seem to indicate a recurrence, but a few days back on the coconut oils takes care of the issue. I have also used the coconut oil to successfully treat the mouth ulcers I get occasionally; those would normally last many days to a couple weeks, but simply swishing some coconut oil around in the mouth for a few minutes causes the ulcers to disappear within a day or two.

Coconut Oil treatment_March 2014

While most of the natural treatments you find online are sketchy, this is one that worked a “miracle” for my dermatitis. If you or someone you know has a similar condition, I would recommend giving coconut oil a try (stick with virgin and organic version).

Coconut Oil treatment_March 2014