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What Is Witch Hazel Cream?

Witch hazel can be applied to the skin to treat dermatitis.
A witch hazel cream.
Witch hazel is often incorporated into many natural skin care products.
A woman applying witch hazel cream.
Article Details
  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Witch hazel cream is a medicinal cream containing the plant with the same name. It is generally used to treat or prevent a variety of skin ailments and can be used as part of an anti-aging regimen. The plant itself has been used for hundreds of years in North America for skin health and is now being grown in other parts of the world due to its proven effects.

The name “witch hazel” comes from the word wych, which means “to bend” or “flexible” due to the pliable nature of the plant. When used for medicinal purposes the leaves, bark, and fruit are most commonly used. There are four different species of witch hazel, and all of them are often used for similar purposes.

There may be witch hazel cream varieties that contain other ingredients to intensify the effects of the plant. Anti-itching medications or skin softening agents may be added, although witch hazel is often used alone or with only other plants or herbs. Tinctures and gels are also commonly used, although creams are often the more convenient to apply.

One of the uses of witch hazel cream is as a skin firming agent. It has been shown to reduce the effects of aging by tightening up loose areas of the skin, which may be help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The firming action also may reduce irritation from insect bites.

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Some types of witch hazel cream may be used to help ease sore muscles. There have been studies which indicate that it numbs the skin. This may help to relax the area and allow proper healing and rest of the muscle. The numbing qualities may also be useful in the treatment of sunburn, especially when combined with other ingredients.

Witch hazel cream is also occasionally used for insect bites and in facial washes to pull out impurities from the skin. This can reduce itching in the case of a bite because it may reduce the amount of venom or serum which enters the body, and as a facial wash it helps remove oil and dirt to reduce breakouts. It also has a soothing effect on the skin, making the irritation associated with pimples, insect bites, and other issues less bothersome.

Consumers can buy pure witch hazel extract and use it in combination with lotions or skin creams to provide added benefits. Before doing this, a doctor or herbalist should be contacted to ensure the herb won’t have any adverse effects when combined with other ingredients, although this generally isn’t the case. Witch hazel cream can typically be used in combination with other therapies when needed.

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