Aloe vera is the plant that just keeps on giving. Its jelly-filled leaves are commonly sliced open and slathered on sunburns, however, aloe vera offers other medicinal benefits for healing wounds, advancing oral health, and easing digestion, making it the ultimate homeopathic staple. This includes treating symptoms of eczema; the same anti-inflammatory properties it contains that soothe sunburns so well can also soothe the red, dry, itchy patches that come with an eczema flare. While aloe can be used on its own to treat eczema, aloe vera creams are particularly healing, as they double down on hydration, nourishment, and more.
The best aloe vera creams, at a glance:
- Best overall: Cetaphil, Soothing Gel-Cream with Aloe, $14
- Best for spot treatments: Cortizone Anti-Itch Cream with Aloe, $8
- Best for face: Nakery Beauty, Intensive Repair Treatment Eczema Relief Soothing Treatment, $34
- Best for body: Skinfix, Eczema+ Extra Strength Body Cream, $39
- Best for lips: Vaseline, Lip Therapy Lip Balm Tin, $5
- Best for rough skin: Aruba Aloe, Alhydran Eczema Care, $43
- Best cooling: Eczema Honey, Original Skin Soothing Cream, $24
Below, dermatologists share why aloe vera creams for eczema help so well, what to look for in a product, and the best creams to buy.
How aloe vera helps hydrate skin
Aloe vera's healing benefits largely come from how well it hydrates skin. “The leaf of the aloe vera plant is rich in water, particularly in the innermost layer of the leaf, so it helps to hydrate the skin and lock in moisture,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York. “The sugars, also known as mucopolysaccharides, help to retain moisture in the skin.” This hydration element is essential in eczema-prone skin, as it dries out faster. Its anti-inflammatory properties also reign supreme when it comes to soothing irritated and inflamed skin as a result of eczema.
How can aloe vera creams help those who have eczema
Teresa Song, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical, tells W+G that aloe vera-infused creams work well in eczematous skin because of their ability to boost moisture retention and improve inflammation. “Studies have demonstrated that aloe vera potentially exerts its anti-inflammatory effects through the activation of key cellular pathways, with positive results reported in other inflammatory skin conditions as well.” Combining aloe vera with hydrocortisone-based cream or ointment has additional anti-inflammatory benefits, Dr. Song adds.
What to look for in an aloe vera cream for eczema
Dr. Song says that fragrance-free products are generally recommended over products with fragrances, “as the fragrance itself can be an irritant for eczema-prone skin.”
Similar to fragrance, alcohol can be drying and irritating when applied to eczema-prone skin, so Dr. Song advises against in aloe vera creams. To help you narrow down your search, we tapped several dermatologists for their input on the best aloe creams for eczema. Ahead, you’ll find several options that quell inflammation, calm angry skin, and draw moisture back to the skin barrier.
When it comes to moisturizers for eczema, Cetaphil doesn’t disappoint. Dr. Garshick and Dr. Song recommend this cream because it’s soothing and hydrating. It’s formulated with an allantoin skin protectant, as well as humectants like glycerin and panthenol, which can help attract and retain water. The cream has a gel-like consistency that absorbs quickly into the skin and is formulated without irritants like fragrance and parabens. Since it’s sensitive skin-safe, apply it all over the body or on parched patches to relieve stressed-out skin.
Amount: 16 oz.
- Contains humectants like glycerin and panthenol
- Fragrance- and paraben-free
- May feel sticky for some
Best for spot treatment
Part of what makes Cortizone’s cream so effective at treating eczema spots is the hydrocortisone. A topical steroid, hydrocortisone reduces itching and inflammation while the aloe vera soothes the skin, says Dr. Garshick. “This combination may help to address signs and symptoms of eczema,” she adds. As someone with eczema myself, I love applying this cream on my hands, where I often get eczema patches and flares in the warm weather. Also nice? It’s fragrance-free and relieves itching in minutes. Itch-free city, here we come.
Amount: 2 oz.
- Formulated with hydrocortisone to relieve itching
- Not fast absorbing
Best for face
The key ingredients in Nakery Beauty’s face and body cream are colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera. Combined, these gentle ingredients help to soothe areas of skin irritation, making it great for eczema and for use on the face. “It also contains squalane and sea buckthorn oil to prevent dryness while also strengthening the skin’s natural moisture barrier,” explains Dr. Garshick. Apply it directly on flare-ups, or use it as a daily moisturizer.
Amount: 6 fl. oz.
- Soothes irritation and itching
- Blended with colloidal oats for extra nourishment
- Steroid- and fragrance-free
- Advances skin texture
Best for body
Whenever I’m feeling itchy or my skin needs an extra dose of moisture, I’ll reach for Skinfix’s Eczema+ Extra Strength Body Cream. “This hydrating and deeply nourishing cream combines colloidal oatmeal and sweet almond oil in addition to aloe vera, together helping to nourish dry skin and relieve itching,” says Dr. Garshick. Also in the formula is glycerin—a humectant that keeps skin hydrated for longer by pulling moisture to the skin—making it a great daily body moisturizer.
Amount: 8 fl. oz.
- Relieves itching and dry skin
- Formulated with colloidal oatmeal and glycerin
- Ideal for external body use
- Thickness may not be ideal for some
Best for lips
Eczema doesn’t exclusively target the skin on your body—it can affect your face and lips, too. For that, Dr. Song recommends Vaseline’s Lip Therapy. Formulated with pure Vaseline jelly and aloe vera, this non-greasy product softens chapped, irritated lips and soothes dryness. It also can be used to rehydrate the dry patches on the face. Eczema flares are no match for this balm.
Amount: 0.6 oz.
- Contains minimal ingredients
- Offers relief for chapped lips
- Can be used on the lips or dry patches on the face
- Some may not like the scent
Best for rough skin
This Alhydran treatment works great for rough skin, according to Dr. Song. “This cream combines the benefits of urea, which helps to hydrate and nourish the skin with lactic acid and aloe vera to offer calming and soothing benefits for the skin,” says Dr. Garshick. “It can be used on irritated, sunburned, or post-procedure skin.”I struggle with parched eczema patches on my hands and it’s been a lifesaver for relieving my flares. After applying a quarter-sized amount to my hands, I notice reduced redness and flaking almost immediately.
Amount: 2 fl. oz.
- Can be used on rough skin
- Formulated with aloe vera to soothe irritate skin
- Shortens duration of eczema flares
One of the ways to worsen eczema is by continuing to itch. To stop itching in its tracks, Angela Lamb, MD, a dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, suggests Eczema Honey’s Original Skin-Soothing Cream.
“I like this one because it combines the healing elements of honey along with the hydrating properties of aloe,” she says. An additional property of aloe is that it cools the skin. Lastly, look to the colloidal oatmeal and organic sunflower oil—which forms a protective barrier and quells inflammation. Plus, this product received the seal of approval from the National Eczema Association (!!)
Amount: 4 oz.
- Enriched with colloidal oatmeal, sunflower oil, aloe vera to quell inflammation
- Has a cooling effect
- Seal of approval from the National Eczema Association
- May be sticky for some
- Sujatha, G et al. “Aloe vera in dentistry.” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR vol. 8,10 (2014): ZI01-2. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/8382.4983
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