The Best Eczema Creams and Lotions to Soothe Dry, Itchy Skin, According to Derms
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When you have eczema, it can be difficult to know what cream or lotion to buy in the sea of options on the market that won't exacerbate your symptoms. For that reason, we consulted the experts to find the best eczema treatments that will actually soothe and repair irritated skin. But first, let's delve into what eczema actually is.
Eczema is a skin condition that causes itchy, dry, and inflamed skin. The severity depends on the person, and can manifest as flakes when mild or a rough, cracked texture when severe. The condition can develop on many parts of the body, but is most commonly found on the inside of elbows, back of the knees, hands, and face.
Eczema has various causes, but is typically due to "either a genetic predisposition (it often affects people with asthma and hay fever) and exposure to an allergen, or a reaction to an external allergen," said consulting dermatologist Susan Mayou. "Irritant eczema is due to excess exposure to an irritant, such as soaps." The skin condition is also incredibly common. "Eczema or atopic dermatitis (as it's otherwise known) is very common, affects 20 percent of children and 2 percent of adults worldwide," said consulting dermatologist Catherine Borysiewicz.
When it comes to helping soothe and repair the condition, "the best creams are the ones that lock in the moisture to repair and hydrate the skin," said consulting dermatologist Rishika Sinha. "And you should avoid anything with perfume or a strong fragrance, as this can cause irritation." Additionally, thinner lotions can sometimes cause dryness due to their higher water content. It's for this reason that dermatologists recommend a heavier cream that contains ceramides high up on the ingredient list.
If you visit the GP with eczema concerns, they might prescribe you a steroid cream, and while these are effective, that should only be used during severe flare-ups. "Steroids work by having a suppressant effect on cells of the immune system found in the skin, which stops the itchy sensation and redness from continuing," said Simran Deo, a GP and dermatologist specialist at UK-based online doctor Zava UK. When treating severe eczema, steroid creams should be used alongside moisturizers as they "protect the outermost layer of skin, which is important as a damaged skin barrier can leave deeper layers of the skin more vulnerable to irritants, allergens, and bacteria," Dr. Deo said.
While eczema is a chronic condition, there are certain things you can do to help relieve the symptoms, one of the biggest (and easiest) is incorporating a good moisturizer into your daily routine. And so you don't have to faff around with reading ingredients labels and running from store to store, we asked top dermatologists to share the ones they recommend to their patients. Read on to see which eczema creams — many of which you'll find at your local drugstore — will best help soothe itchy, inflamed, and sore skin, according to dermatologists.