No, I am not talking about Witch Hazel from the Looney Tunes. I’m talking about the witch hazel plant. Witch hazel may be in your medicine cabinet next to the peroxide and alcohol, but what can you use it for? Many, many things! I use my bottle every day, but while doing research for this post I found that there are so many more uses for witch hazel!
First, a little history lesson: Native Americans boiled pieces of the witch hazel plant and used them to treat various injuries. Settlers copied the Native Americans which lead to witch hazel being used throughout North America.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent, which means it tightens and reduces inflammation. It has been used topically for itching, inflammation, insect bites, and other things. Witch hazel can also be ingested to relieve upset stomachs and other ailments. I have not tried this yet so I cannot give a personal account of it but the articles I read are on Discovery Health and Webmd.
20 awesome topical uses for witch hazel
- Bug bites/itching – dab a cotton ball soaked with witch hazel on the affected area. I use this almost every time and it works wonderfully to relieve the itching.
- Open wounds (like cuts and scrapes) – apply witch hazel to an open wound to cleanse, protect against infection, and promote healing. I have used it with good success. It works very well and does not sting the way plain isopropyl alcohol does on open skin. It stops the minor bleeding quickly which is important for any “doctor” mom! This will only work with witch hazel distilled in alcohol. If you make brewed witch hazel, it will not disinfect.
- Astringent – use as an astringent to tighten pores and remove excess oil. Every night before bed I rub a cotton ball soaked with witch hazel all over my face and neck. I allow the area to dry then I apply a nice thick nighttime cream (I LOVE “Hope in a Jar Night” from Philosophy). I also use witch hazel every time I wash off makeup. It’s amazing how much gunk is still left on your face AFTER washing!
- Acne – apply to affected skin to gently and effectively treat pimples. When I was pregnant I would get these painful pimples on my back. After they were popped, James would rub the witch hazel on them. It never burned the way plain isopropyl alcohol can but was rather soothing. The pimples would dry up within a day or so. If they were not ready to be popped or could not be popped, James would soak them in witch hazel everyday and they would usually dry up within three days.
- After childbirth care – Ladies, you know that wonderful, cool ice pad they place on you after giving birth? It’s usually soaked in witch hazel, then frozen! I know! No wonder it’s so relieving!
- Heal razor burn – rub some witch hazel on your razor burn or ingrown hairs for instant relief! The anti-itching and anti-inflammatory properties in witch hazel stop the bumps from forming around the irritated hair follicle. You can apply it before or after shaving. I usually forget to do it before but remember once my legs start getting irritated.
- Skin refresher – apply witch hazel all over face whenever you feel oily or grimy and cannot wash your face. I actually emptied and cleaned out a small bottle so that I could fill it up with witch hazel to carry around in my purse.
- Retain moisture – while witch hazel does tighten and shrink pores, it does not dry out skin. It actually locks in moisture. After showering, apply witch hazel all over to naturally retain moisture. You will smell great too!
- Hemorrhoids – Witch hazel is also found in hemorrhoid products because of its anti-itching and anti-inflammation properties. You can make your own pads (for hemorrhoids or other issues) by soaking cotton pads in witch hazel (I would use the alcohol free kind), storing them in the fridge and applying to the affected area.
- Diaper rashes – Apply witch hazel (the one without alcohol) to the diaper rash and it should heal faster. I wish I had known this in November! Since we used disposable diapers while we were visiting my in-laws, Pie ended up with a nasty diaper rash that lasted forever (or at least a couple of weeks). I would have gladly tried putting witch hazel on it if I knew it would help!
- Treating poison ivy and poison oak – dabbing a cotton ball soaked with witch hazel over affected area should relieve itching and inflammation. I have not tried this yet, but living in Florida with two kids I’m sure I will need it.
- Soothe sunburn – healing damaged skin and reducing inflammation are both properties of witch hazel which is why it is perfect for treating sunburn. As a teenager I tried to tan and burned instead. Too bad I didn’t know about this then. It would have saved me from the awful peeling! While I use sunscreen now, I’m sure my daughters will fight me on this later and end up burned, and I will be prepared with my witch hazel!
- Treat eczema and psoriasis – the anti-itching and anti-inflammatory properties in witch hazel help treat these conditions.
- Heal bruises faster – apply a cloth soaked in witch hazel a few times a day to a bruise to help promote healing, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain. Again, I wish I knew this when I was younger! I was always getting bruises and witch hazel would have saved me a lot of pain and discoloration!
- Treat under eye bags – applying witch hazel to under eye bags will reduce the inflammation and discoloration. I bet the witch hazel would feel even better if it was cold!
- Relieve an itchy scalp – pour one part witch hazel to two parts water over scalp, massage through hair and scalp, and rinse. As someone who suffers from a itchy, dry scalp you best believe I will be trying this! Update: This is amazing! I rinse my hair with it right after shampooing and before applying conditioner and my scalp never itches (except on the days that I forget)!
- Treat varicose veins – as with a bruise, applying a cloth soaked in witch hazel multiple times a day can help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.
- Treat chicken pox blisters – Mix equal parts witch hazel and water together. Spray over affected area as often as needed.
- Treating swimmer’s ear – a combination of witch hazel, goldenseal, and calendula tea and applied to the outer ear by a cotton swab is helpful in treating swimmer’s ear. As swimmer’s ear is a mild infection, the witch hazel in alcohol works best.
- Preventing/treating cold sores – at the first sign of a cold sore begin applying witch hazel to prevent it from becoming a blister. If it has already blistered, applying witch hazel will heal the blister faster.
Witch hazel is commonly sold distilled with isopropyl alcohol, which is fine for some of the uses listed above, especially if you want to use it as an antiseptic. For most of the uses above you should use an alcohol free formula.
There are so many uses for witch hazel! Share your favorite use with us!
Have a blessed day!
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