I've been dealing with chronic eczema since I was a toddler, and at 23, I still have occasional flare-ups that leave my arms covered in dry, red, itchy patches. Fortunately, there are treatments for this chronic condition, and with the help of an expert, I've put together the ultimate guide to the best moisturizers for eczema to help you (and I) get the relief we deserve.
To find out which moisturizers on the market are the most effective, I reached out to Dr. Shereene Idriss of Union Square Laser Dermatology, who told me that it's super important to treat eczema right away. "If untreated, chronic scratching may lead to breakage of your skin and disruption of the protective barrier function," Dr. Idriss says. "This in turn can result in infections, particularly staphylococcus aureus or its resistant strain known as MRSA."
Dr. Idriss recommends products that are thick, fragrance-free, and ideally formulated without preservatives to help treat eczema quickly and successfully. She also says that topical corticosteroids can provide reprieve from the horrible itching that's all too common with eczema as well. She left me with the great line, "Moisturizers are not all created equal," by which she means that folks should gravitate towards ointments or creams with a higher oil content to moisturize aching skin. She says that lotions have a higher water content — and sometimes, even alcohol — so they tend to evaporate from skin faster than a thicker formula.
So read on to find out which moisturizers are best for treating eczema by keeping your skin safe, protected, and hydrated.
1. An Ultra-Moisturizing Formula For Extra-Dry Eczema
"Even though it is marketed for babies, Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream is a favorite of mine. It contains oat oils and oat extracts — both of which offer intense hydration to your skin," Dr. Idriss says. Even better, this cream was formulated by actual dermatologists and is also free of fragrances, parabens, and phthalates. If you're looking for a non-steroid moisturizer, you'll love this formula, which also boasts glycerin and panthenol — two hydrating humectants that are super effective at combating angry skin. You can use it on your face and body — choose from three sizes, including a jumbo 12-ounce bottle that'll last you ages.
2. A Classic Skin Protectant For Particularly Flaky & Achy Flare-Ups
Ah, good old Vaseline. You can apply it anywhere, and it's good for burns, rashes, chapped lips, and of course, eczema. This household favorite catch-all cure is an amazing skin protectant for particularly irritating cases of eczema and comes recommended by Dr. Idriss herself, who says, "Essential in treating eczema [is] moisturizing with thick ointments, preferably without preservatives and fragrance-free, such as Vaseline." Vaseline is 100 percent pure petroleum jelly, an ingredient that even the most sensitive skin can tolerate due to its non-abrasive nature. The formula itself is pretty sticky and thick, so it's best to smear a thin layer on particularly painful afflicted areas instead of using it as an all-over treatment. Vaseline is highly-purified and relatively inexpensive, so if you're looking for a budget-friendly option to soothe your eczema, this pack of two for only $6 is the perfect solution.
3. A Powerful Cortisone Cream For Folks Who Need Itch Relief STAT
I don't know about y'all, but for me, the most intolerable symptom of eczema isn't the dryness or the flakiness (I have super dry skin in the winter, so I have a very thorough routine to deal with classic chafed scaleys), but the itch factor. It's like a bug bite on steroids, which is why you're gonna need a corticosteroid cream to not just meet those flare-ups halfway, but come out on top. Dr. Idriss says, "Topical corticosteroids are used to treat disease flares and break the scratch-itch cycle," so if an itch comes a-knockin', don't go a-scratchin'. Use this CeraVe formula instead, which is packed full of three different types of skin-restoring ceramides AND hyaluronic acid for an extra boost of moisture. Additionally, this formula boasts the highest cortisone percentage you can get without a prescription, as well as a seal of acceptance from the National Eczema Association (yep, that's a thing) for its incredible efficacy. Feel free to use it on both your body and face.
4. An All-Over Body Moisturizer Packed With Restoring Ceramides
Like its CeraVe predecessor, this calming body moisturizer from Cetaphil has also earned an official seal of approval from the National Eczema Association, and if that's not enough to convince you that this product really works, then the ingredients list definitely will be. This formula from Cetaphil also contains ceramides abound, but it lacks corticosteroids, which might be too abrasive for some people. It's free of fragrance, parabens, and nut oils, so it's perfect for sensitive-skinned folks of all ages looking for an easily absorbable formula that's gentle, yet highly effective. Dr. Idriss says, "The Cetaphil Restoraderm line is another product I usually recommend. Infused with ceramides, it allows your skin to retain moisture and soothe dryness," so if your main issue with your flare-up is the scaliness and flakiness that often accompanies eczema, this all-over body moisturizer is your new holy grail product.
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