Eczema damages the skin’s moisture barrier, leading to irritation, dryness, itching, infection, and worsening eczema flares. Maintaining the moisture barrier is a vital part of eczema treatment. Moisturizers, which include lotions, creams, and ointments, soothe itching, redness, and dryness and can help prevent your eczema from getting worse. Moisturizers work by trapping water in the skin and maintaining the skin’s natural barrier. The regular application of moisturizers can promote healing in skin affected by eczema.
What does it involve?
Many doctors recommend ointments, the heaviest type of moisturizing products, for people with eczema. Ointments effectively lock moisture into your skin. However, these products are more likely to be greasier and take longer to absorb. Creams are the next heaviest moisturizing product, and can also be very useful in maintaining the skin’s moisture barrier while feeling less greasy. Lotions are the lightest type of moisturizer, and the quickest and easiest for your skin to absorb. Lotions also evaporate quickly, and may contain irritating preservatives or stabilizing agents.
To minimize irritation to your skin, choose moisturizing products that are free of alcohol, artificial preservatives, and fragrances. If you know you are allergic to certain ingredients, read labels carefully to avoid products containing allergens. When trying a new moisturizer for the first time, apply a small amount to the inside or your wrist or elbow and leave it for a day or two. Watch for any allergic reactions.
There is no need to purchase expensive products to moisturize your skin. Petroleum jelly and cooking oils such as coconut or sunflower seed oil make inexpensive substitutes that work well for many people with eczema.
Apply a moisturizer to your skin at least once a day following a warm bath or shower. If you are using a topical medication, apply it first, immediately after bathing, and allow it to absorb into the skin. Apply moisturizer as soon as the medication has absorbed. Do not delay applying the moisturizer, since moisture is lost from the skin as it dries. Try to apply moisturizer within three minutes of bathing, if possible.
Apply moisturizer in downward strokes. Do not rub up and down, or in a circular motion. If the moisturizer feels thick and tacky on your skin after applying, do not remove the excess. Allow it to absorb into your skin.
You may get the best results when you apply moisturizer multiple times a day, for instance, whenever you change clothes. You may need to apply moisturizer more frequently during dry or cold weather.
Moisturizers can help reduce itching, redness, and dryness and promote healing in skin affected by eczema.
In a 2017 article that reviewed existing clinical studies on moisturizer use in people with eczema, those who used moisturizers were found to have fewer flares, a lower rate of flares, and reduced rate of topical corticosteroid use compared with those who did not use moisturizers. In addition, using moisturizers in tandem with anti-inflammatory treatments improved the effectiveness of the treatments.
Some moisturizers are expensive.
Some moisturizers may be oily or greasy and capable of causing stains.
It may be difficult to remember to apply moisturizers regularly.
For more information, visit:
Controlling Eczema by Moisturizing – National Eczema Association
Emollients and moisturizers for eczema: abridged Cochrane systematic review including GRADE assessments. – PubMed