Which eczema products are best?
People of any age can develop eczema, a chronic condition that often results in itching and inflamed skin. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2% to 10% of all adults in developed countries have some form of eczema. Fortunately, there are ways to help combat the symptoms of this condition, such as topical creams or prescription treatments. The best over-the-counter eczema product is the Aquaphor Healing Ointment Variety Pack.
What to know before you buy eczema products
Causes and symptoms of eczema
Eczema is an overarching term for many different types of dermatitis. The common types of eczema include:
- Contact dermatitis
- Atopic dermatitis
- Dyshidrotic eczema
It is usually caused by one or more of the following:
- Genetics: Those with a family history of dermatitis, allergens or asthma are more likely to also develop eczema.
- Environmental triggers: Common allergens such as pollen, food and pet hair or dander can result in an allergic reaction, leading to a flare-up. Other things such as extremely dry air, high heat, air pollutants and strong fragrances in hand soap can also lead to it.
- Immune system issues: Mental or physical stress, infection and asthma can all trigger eczema.
Signs of eczema include:
- Dry, itchy skin
- Small bumps on the skin
- Swelling or inflammation
For some people, symptoms last only a few days. For others, they can last several weeks. Fortunately, most at-home treatments can help soothe flare-ups.
Although every eczema product is different, here are the three main ingredient categories you can expect to find:
- Emollients: Emollients help rebuild and protect the skin barrier by returning natural fats to it. Common emollients are cocoa butter, fatty acids, paraffin, shea butter, petroleum jelly and ceramides.
- Humectants: These can help bring moisture back to the skin. Common humectants include aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid and glycerin. Used alone, these ingredients could cause a mild burning sensation on the skin. Most lotions and gels with humectants also contain soothing ingredients that prevent this issue.
- Occlusives: These help lock and seal in the moisture obtained from humectants. A common problem with many creams and lotions is that they evaporate quickly. With occlusives, this is no longer an issue. Common ones are petroleum jelly, coconut oil and mineral oil.
Many products for eczema include one or more of the ingredients above. Used in combination, they can provide the most relief. If you want to check how much moisture is in your skin, use a skin moisture analyzer to get fast results. This can help you determine what type of product to get.
Prescription vs. over-the-counter products
Over-the-counter solutions to eczema can handle most flare-ups, but if you’re having chronic issues, consult with a dermatologist. They should be able to prescribe medicated creams such as hydrocortisone cream to help you get a better handle on it.
Other options that can prevent rashness and reduce inflammation caused by dermatitis include:
- Calcineurin inhibitors
- Crisaborole ointment
What to look for in quality eczema products
Eczema products usually come in the following forms:
- Lotions absorb quickly into the skin but are primarily made from water. Unless medicated, the moisture doesn’t last for long.
- Creams and ointments have a higher oil concentration than water and feel heavier on the skin. These last longer, so you don’t have to reapply them as often. Many are ideal for highly sensitive skin.
- Skin barrier creams help lock in moisture and generally include ingredients such as ceramides. Consult a doctor before using one.
- Plant-based oils, such as tea tree oil, offer minor or temporary relief. Use these with caution if you have known allergies.
Container size and style
Most containers are either pumps, jars or tubes. Some have an applicator nozzle, while others require you to remove a lid to use them.
Lotions usually come in 12- to 24-fluid-ounce containers, while thicker ointments and jars are between 8 and 14 ounces, on average.
Choose a container size based on how frequently you plan to use it. If you want to take the product with you, go with a smaller container. But if you want something to put by the sink or on the bedside table, choose a larger one.
Ingredients to avoid
Many creams, ointments and lotions claim to be able to hydrate the skin and bring immediate relief to things such as rashes or itchiness. However, certain ingredients can make the issue worse such as by drying out or irritating your skin. This includes:
- Salicylic acid
- Artificial fragrances
Other ingredients could cause certain types of dermatitis to flare up, including:
Cross-reference any ingredients with any known allergies before purchase. If you’re not sure what type of eczema you have, consult a doctor to find out what they recommend.
How much you can expect to spend on eczema products
A small container of ointment or bottle of lotion costs around $10-$30. Specialty skin care treatments and larger containers can cost $30-$80.
Eczema products FAQ
How do you diagnose eczema?
A. A dermatologist or another healthcare provider can examine your skin for common signs of eczema, such as dry or red skin. They will also ask a series of questions about your symptoms. In some cases, you may undergo an allergy skin or blood test to determine the type you have.
Are organic products best?
A. Many organic lotions, ointments and creams contain botanicals and essential oils, which could cause an allergic reaction in some people. A better option for those with sensitive skin or frequent flare-ups is a hypoallergenic solution.
Is eczema curable?
A. No, but having a good moisturizing routine can help alleviate symptoms. Along with this, avoid scratching itchy areas. Also, switch to mild soaps and detergents, ideally without artificial scents. If the air is dry, use a humidifier.
What are the best eczema products to buy?
Top eczema product
What you need to know: Included in this variety pack are a jar and a tube of strong ointment that seals in moisture and protects your skin.
What you’ll love: It can create a soothing barrier for cracked and dry skin while restoring smoothness. It’s thick and unscented, making it ideal for long-term relief.
What you should consider: It does contain lanolin, which can cause broken skin to sting.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top eczema product for the money
What you need to know: This moisturizing cream is free from steroids and fragrances, making it ideal for those with sensitive skin who want something for daily use.
What you’ll love: Gentle and hydrating, this 12-fluid-ounce bottle can help soothe dry or irritated skin. It has colloidal oatmeal, ceramides and lipids that restore the skin’s natural protective barrier.
What you should consider: It requires frequent reapplication for those with more chronic skin irritation.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Perfect for full-body use, this lotion can help soothe and hydrate irritated or dry skin.
What you’ll love: It’s a great addition to any skin care routine, especially after a shower or bath. The formula contains aloe vera and witch hazel extract, which can smooth and soothe the skin.
What you should consider: It does have a light scent, which could be problematic for sensitive skin.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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