6 Essential Products for Eczema and Why They Work

swipes of lotions and skincare products on a neutral background swiping up and down in an aesthetic way

By Jamie Wilson

Published On: Oct 2, 2023

Last Updated On: Oct 2, 2023

Whether someone is a seasoned eczema warrior or are new to the club, it is important to invest in a core set of products that won’t aggravate or lead to a flare. With input from professionals, we’ll go through what someone with eczema should shop for, what they should avoid, why these items or ingredients are beneficial and how best to use them to manage symptoms. 

What are some important products and ingredients to prioritize? 

Here are six types of products or ingredients that dermatologists recommend for people with eczema:  

  • Petroleum-based moisturizers
  • Pramoxine (an ingredient to treat itchiness)
  • Colloidal oatmeal (an ingredient to treat itchiness)
  • Fragrance-free laundry essentials 
  • Physical sunblock
  • 100% cotton clothing 

Why are these types of products important for eczema management and how do they help?

1. Moisturizers 

When it comes to what is best to have on hand, the ecz-perts agreed that keeping the skin hydrated and moisturized with a hypoallergenic, petroleum-based moisturizer is key. “The thicker the better,” said Dr. JiaDe (Jeff) Yu, board-certified dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. “These thick, clear, petrolatum ointments have low water and alcohol content, so they won’t burn when placed on the skin. They are also the best to maintain moisture in the skin.” 

2. Pramoxine

During flares the skin can get itchy and irritated, and for this Dr. Paul Yamauchi, dermatologist at Dermatology Institute & Skin Care Center in Santa Monica, California, recommends products containing the ingredient pramoxine. “Pramoxine is an ingredient present in several anti-itch topical remedies that relieve the itch and pain associated with eczema by blocking nerve endings in the skin,” he explained. 

3. Colloidal oatmeal
Another anti-itch ingredient to look out for is colloidal oatmeal. Dr. Yamauchi recommends soaking in a bath with colloidal oatmeal or using creams that are formulated with it. Colloidal oatmeal is an ingredient used in several products meant for treating dry, itchy skin because it “forms a protective barrier on your skin and helps retain moisture, calm down inflammation and relieve the itch.” 

4. Fragrance-free laundry essentials  

Finding the right products for laundry is also a top concern for people with eczema because detergents and softeners can sometimes contain harsh cleansing agents or other irritants that can easily trigger flares. Dr. Yu pointed out that fragrance in laundry products “are common causes of skin irritation and rash.” 

Dr. Sabra Leitenberger, associate professor of pediatric dermatology at Oregon Health & Science University added, “fragrance is a common cause of allergic contact dermatitis in children, which can compound atopic dermatitis by causing even more itch and inflammation.” She also recommends steering clear of softeners or laundry sheets for this reason as well and notes that these products actually “stay on fabrics and can have even more potential to be allergenic and/or irritating than detergents, which usually wash out pretty well these days.” 

5. Cotton clothing

On the topic of laundry, certain fabrics (like those that are wool-based) can lead to irritation in the skin. Dr. Yu recommended opting for 100% organic cotton clothing. “These tend to be softer and less likely to contain potential dyes and chemicals that can cause allergic reactions,” he explained. 

6. Sunblock

Another major product to have in a basic eczema-centric routine is sunscreen, but not just any pick is going to make the cut. Dr. Leitenberger advised against chemical sunscreens, which typically include ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenxone and octinoxate and work by absorbing UV rays. These can be “causes of allergic contact dermatitis, and these formulations can sometimes sting and irritate skin with active dermatitis.” 

She explained that it’s best to look for physical sunblock, which will have the active ingredients listed as either zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Physical or mineral SPFs work by creating a barrier to block UV rays. For people with children, she notes that broad spectrum and water-resistant are “best for UV protection under practical conditions.” And as always, fragrance free. 

How can someone with eczema easily look for these products? 

  • Read the labels carefully when looking for fragrance-free products or beneficial ingredients. 
  • Ask your dermatologist to recommend products that are best suited for you. 
  • To help make searching for products easier, you can also check out NEA’s Seal of Acceptance Product Directory.

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