What causes eczema
Eczema is a form of atopic dermatitis that impacts over 31 million people in the United States, according to the National Eczema Association. "It's a condition of skin sensitivity where the skin is prone to irritation and dryness," says Rachel Nazarian, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York. When eczema is triggered, the skin reacts by overproducing skin cells that can lead to dry patches that become itchy and inflamed and usually appear flaky, pink, or red. Because eczema reacts to the lack of humidity in cold air, dry, chilly temps can cause the level of itchiness to go from zero to 100 really quick.
Beyond the weather, lifestyle habits can also have an effect on eczema. Scratching or itching an eczema-impacted area could exacerbate the situation, causing it to spread and leading to a skin infection, says Dr. Nazarian. When a person itches dry skin, it triggers the release of inflammatory mediators which cause more itching. Hot water is also an irritant so dermatologists recommend taking fewer or shorter hot showers and baths. When showering, Shari Sperling, DO, a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey also recommends steering clear of fragrant soaps. "I advise people to avoid fragrance in soaps, lotions, and laundry detergent, as those can aggravate eczema," says Dr Sperling.
What to look for in lotions for eczema
Luckily, affordable treatments are available over the counter to keep flare-ups at bay. When choosing the right lotion, Dr. Nazarian recommends looking for products that do not strip the skin of natural hydration and protect the skin's barrier such as ceramides. Ceramides work like glue—they occur naturally in our skin and are known as the building blocks of its barrier—and hold our skin cells together to ensure they remain intact. When our own ceramides are compromised, which is the case with eczema, we have to supplement them with topical products.
Another key ingredient to keep your eyes peeled for is hyaluronic acid, which helps to retain moisture. Small traces of hyaluronic acid are actually found in our skin, but the amount that our bodies produce on their own decreases as we age. Because of this, Dr. Nazarian suggests looking for a lotion with hyaluronic acid to replenish our skin's natural supply.
As far as textures go, Dr. Sperling suggests sticking with thicker creams and ointments, because these products have a thicker consistency and tend to be more moisturizing because they lock in moisture and keep irritants out. When it comes to preventing flare-ups, "the thicker the better," she says.
How to apply your lotion correctly
If you want to reap all of your moisturizer's benefits, Dr. Nazarian recommends applying your moisturizers within ten minutes after getting out of the shower. When skin is damp, it allows the moisturizer to be effectively absorbed into the skin, and quickly act as a barrier to prevent evaporation of skin hydration," says Dr. Nazarian. When applying your moisturizer, remember to gently rub the lotion into the skin using circular motions. Avoid applying too much pressure, as it can cause redness and irritation.
The good news is that eczema-friendly lotions can be purchased online or at your local drugstore without putting a dent in your wallet. Ready to manage your eczema once and for all? Here are the lotions that dermatologists love for getting the job done.
The best lotions for eczema
If you're looking for all-day moisture, then this itch relief balm is for you. Dermatologists love the colloidal oatmeal which calms, soothes, and moisturizes dry and itchy skin. Aside from its hydrating qualities, it's paraben, steroid, and fragrance free, making this moisturizer a derm favorite.
Shop now: Aveeno Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm, $18
2. CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion, $12
This lotion has two dermatologist-recommended ingredients—ceramides and hyaluronic acid —which work together to protect the skin and maintain moisture. The non-irritating formula makes it a great lotion to be used on the face and body, and it's even got a seal of approval from the National Eczema Association.
Shop now: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion, $12
3. Satya Organics Satya Jar, $21
This stuff is more than just a moisturizer: It's a reliever for stressed-out skin. Made of organic calendula petals, almond oil, beeswax, jojoba, and colloidal oatmeal, this anti-inflammatory moisturizer is here to soothe and restore the skin's barrier. And when you run out, keep the jar and purchase a refillable pouch. Your skin and the environment will thank you.
Shop now: Satya Organics Satya Jar, $21
4. Bioderma Atoderma Cream, $18
It is no secret why dermatologists love Atoderm Cream from Bioderma. From the first application, the ingredients—glycerin and mineral oil—are already locking in moisture and providing lasting softness. The formula has vitamin B3, which helps restores the skin's barrier. Apply the cream once or twice a day for the best results.
Shop now: Bioderma Atoderma Cream, $18
Awarded the seal of acceptance from the National Eczema Association, this dermatologist-tested formula won't clog your pores. This Vanicream is recommended by dermatologists because it can be used on your face and body, so massage your skin with a pump or two right after your shower for long-lasting moisture.
Shop now: Vanicream Moisturizing Cream with Pump, $13
Quench your skin's thirst with this volcanic water and shea butter moisturizer. Its hydrating formula will draw water to the skin, and lock it in for long-lasting moisture. To apply, squeeze onto your skin after a shower, and you'll feel hydrated all day.
Shop now: Vichy Laboratories Ultra-Nourishing Hand Cream, $6
If you're looking to treat eczema patches, then this butter is for you. Seabuckthorn oil, the eczema butter's key ingredient is known to reduce inflammation and heal skin damage. The hint of coconut oil adds for an anti-bacterial effect, soothing your skin. You can also use this for your scalp. Say bye bye to dry, flaky rashes.
Shop now: Lizzie's All-Natural Products Eczema Butter, $25
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