Itchy, scratchy, distracting, persistent, unsightly — it’s no exaggeration to say that chronic atopic eczema can go so far as to affect your mental health, including sleep loss, stress, and depression. So it’s critical to keep it as under control as possible, especially when seasonal changes can make your skin feel more sensitive.
Eczema can come and go at any time throughout a sufferer’s life without an obvious pattern; commonly, summer heat and then dryness from radiators can cause seasonal flare-ups. While some triggers are unavoidable, knowing what’s actually included in each product you’re using (like if your body wash contains sulfates) can help you dodge a flare-up.
From dermatologists to skin specialists these are the most and the best lotions, creams, ointments, and sprays to soothe, heal, and treat eczema-prone skin.
RELATED: Understanding How Your Skin Changes During Menopause
The cream is formulated with soft paraffin and liquid paraffin — stalwart sensitive-skin ingredients that leave a layer on the skin to trap in as much moisture as possible, repel water, and basically help the skin barrier do its job to reduce it cracking. The fewer and more basic the ingredients the better because it drastically reduces the risk of skin irritation. And while Epaderm Cream is a great all-over moisturiser, it can also be used as a cleanser when mixed with watert, while greasier, offers a more potent hit of the same benefits: “In simple terms, ointments are more effective than creams but the trade off is that they can be cosmetically less desirable.” The way to do it? Grease up in ointments overnight, and replace with creams during the day.
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
The ointment is an emollient that can help repair a damaged skin barrier, while the lack of fragrance means it won’t further provoke irritation. It can be a bit greasy” but thinks it’s “great when used immediately after the shower or bath to lock in moisture. Dr. Corey L. Hartman, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology, agrees and names the ointment “the most matte, most elegant of the petrolatum products on the market.” In addition to being stocked by Amazon, Aquaphor is readily available at all major chemists.
RELATED: How to test your skin type at home
Emollin Aerosol Spray
The key to breaking the itch-scratch cycle is to keep the skin’s hydration levels up and help it maintain its barrier function,. On the days you shower, apply a heavier, greasier emollient as soon as possible after showering — they are great at holding water in the skin — and then if you have a day where you don’t shower, use a cream as these tend to have a higher water content.” Any application, however, is made more difficult when your eczema is extensive or in hard-to-reach areas.
Aveeno Dermexa Fast & Long-lasting Balm
If waiting for topical treatments to dry before you can dress in the morning is something you never seem to have time for, Aveeno’s Dermexa Fast & Long-lasting Balm is worth a try. “This balm has the benefits of being intensely moisturising and reducing itching for up to six hours, but also fast-absorbing, which means you’re much more likely to bother using it when you’re in a rush to get out of the door!. It’s approved by the National Eczema Association and contains colloidal oatmeal, oat extracts, and oat oil, which help support the skin’s natural bacterial balance. Antioxidants and ceramides further strengthen the skin’s barrier by helping prevent water loss, meaning it’s simply a great all-rounder for skin health.
RELATED: DIY to avoid while doing facial skincare.
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Although this cleanser can also be used on your body, it has been formulated with the face in mind. “This cleanser is soap-free, fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores. “You can use it either as a lotion-style cleanser (i.e. wipe it off with cotton pads) or mix it with water. It’s also formulated to help the skin retain moisture while cleansing it, which is ideal for eczema sufferers.” Alongside this there is a foaming, face-specific version available (Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser.
La Roche Posay Lipikar Baume AP + M
This slightly more expensive and sophisticated moisturiser is excellent for highly sensitive facial skin, which often has more complex needs than the rest of the body. “This balm-cream contains a formula — which includes a high concentration of La Roche Posay’s famous prebiotic thermal spring water — that helps to balance a group of microorganisms that naturally live on the skin, known as its microbiomer. “The right balance of these microbes can improve the skin’s condition, its responses, and ultimately help to reduce eczema flareups.” Consultant dermatologist Dr Emma Craythorne also notes that this balm offers immediate relief from itching: “This formula is very soothing — it contains a number of active ingredients that restore the skin barrier, act as anti-inflammatories, and reduce the symptoms of even very itchy eczema.”
Gold Bond Ultimate Eczema Relief Skin Protectant Cream
“Whether you’re just a little bit dry or suffering from severe eczema or psoriasis flare-ups, this cream is major.” It contains oatmeal, which calms the skin and can prevent itchiness; aloe vera, for soothing and hydrating; and vitamin E, which helps build the skin’s protective barrier. This slightly different formulation is easier to find in the U.K. and should serve you just as well.
RELATED: Best moisturizers for Dry Skin
Boots Pharmaceuticals Derma Care Hydrocortisone 1% Ointment 15g
“If you are a mild eczema sufferer and don’t have a regularly prescribed hydrocortisone cream or ointment, then it’s always worth having an over-the-counter strength one in the house,” explains Dr Perry. This particular ointment is currently out of stock. If, for whatever reason, your eczema is worse than usual and you have a flareup, hydrocortisone is a potent anti-inflammatory that will reduce the irritation and atopic allergic component pretty swiftly. Always read the information leaflet if it’s your first use — you only need to use it very sparingly, and never on your face.