AD sufferers always have very dry, brittle skin. The external layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, acts as a protective barrier. When the stratum corneum cracks because of dryness, irritants can reach the sensitive layers below and cause a flare-up of AD. Using moisturizers is the best and safest treatment to prevent dry skin. Moisturizers trap water beneath the skin making it flexible and less likely to crack. Research has found that the most effective moisturizers have ointment bases such as petrolatum. Cream based products are also helpful.
Moisturizers work best when applied to wet skin. Lotions contain water and alcohol which can actually dry the skin and are usually inadequate for the very dry skin of atopics. People with AD can bathe regularly and use mild skin cleansers, as long as they follow these simple rules: