23 best eczema treatments of 2022, according to dermatologists
Eczema. Even the word sounds irritating, like an itch we want to scratch (literally).
Especially so during the winter, when the cold temps have us reaching for the best dry skin products under the sun or the best body lotions known to man.
But, with eczema comes the urgency for near-instantaneous relief. Smooth skin is the goal, but product choices usually have to be specific to sensitive skin types and, of course, must be effective to head toward smoother skin.
“Some signs that eczema is starting to occur is if your skin is feeling dry, rough, red or flaky,” Tiffany Libby, MD, FAAD, FACMS, a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Brown Dermatology in Rhode Island, told the Post. “When eczema becomes severe, you may notice more extensive involvement of your skin (more widespread) and or cracks in the skin, which can be painful and may risk becoming infected.”
To help solve the tangible side effects of eczema, we consulted Dr. Libby and two other dermatologists on the best eczema creams, treatments, ointments, balms and everything in between. But first, take a look at the following FAQ.
Click to jump to specific eczema treatment, as recommended by our dermatologists:
What is eczema?
“Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin disease that results in dry skin and recurrent red, itchy and inflamed rashes,” Aegean H. Chan, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist at California Dermatology Group, told the Post.
As one approaches adulthood, “atopic dermatitis looks like dry, thickened, scaly skin,” Lian Mack, MD, FAAD, medical director and founder of Gramercy and Scarsdale Laser and Medical Dermatology, told the Post. “Common triggers include ingestion of specific foods, use of irritating soaps or detergents, wool clothing and jewelry.”
What ingredients are best to help treat eczema?
Eczema is a clinical “dysfunction of the skin barrier,” Dr. Libby notes. As such, genetic, environmental, and immunologic factors contribute to its flare-up, but it’s a priority to repair the skin barrier. Namely, ingredients to help reverse eczematic effects are humectants, emollients and occlusive moisturizers.
According to Dr. Libby, humectants help add moisture back to the skin, while emollients add back oils, lubricating and softening the skin. Occlusive moisturizers work to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL).
“Common humectants are glycerin, lactic acid, urea and hyaluronic acid,” Dr. Libby adds. “Emollients examples are glycol and glyceryl stearate, soy sterols, squalane, and oils like jojoba, sweet almond, etc. Common occlusives are petrolatum, dimethicone, shea butter and mineral oil.”
What products should I avoid if I have eczema?
“You should avoid any ingredients that you have a known allergy to and anything that has irritated your skin previously,” Dr. Chan said. “Common products that can do this are acne products with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. I also would avoid high percentage AHAs.”
Be sure to note that developing a skin allergy is higher when you have atopic dermatitis, so avoiding fragrance when you can is a good idea, especially during an active flare.
Is there a way to prevent eczema?
“You can prevent eczema by avoiding triggers, for some, skin irritants like dry heat, wool, harsh soaps, fabric softeners and sweating may lead to flares,” Dr. Libby said.
Dilute bleach baths — using a quarter cup of bleach in a half tub of water and thoroughly mixing is also a mainstay of eczema prevention and treatment, as they have been found to reduce eczema symptoms by reducing bacterial load and inflammation on the skin,” she adds.
Should I use a product that earned the National Eczema Foundation seal of approval?
The National Eczema Association created the Seal of Approval acceptance program to help sensitive-skinned consumers properly select skincare.
“The NEA Seal of Approval criteria includes a list of ingredients that are known for causing irritation,” Dr. Mack explains. “The Seal of Approval review panel evaluates ingredient and formulation data.” Lastly, the Seal of Acceptance makes the products ideal for sensitive skin types easily identifiable.
Best Eczema Creams
1. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $16
All hail CeraVe (much like the world, we love it too). Dr. Chan recommends this formula as one of the best eczema creams due to its ceramides count. With three essential ceramides, the brand’s Moisturizing Cream helps repair the skin’s barrier which, as our experts pointed out, is key for treating the skin condition.
2. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration, $38
Dr. Libby adores First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream for being a “fast-absorbing, rich moisturizer that’s formulated with colloidal oatmeal to soothe and moisturize the driest of skin types.” Plus, she finds it especially perfect in the winter months.
3. Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream, $7, original price: $9
“Eucerin’s Eczema Relief Cream for eczema-prone skin is excellent at reducing flare-ups thanks to its ingredients of colloidal oatmeal, which treats redness and swelling, and ceramides that help to repair the skin barrier,” Dr. Mack said.
Not to mention, the less-than-$10 ticket price on this formula can’t be beaten.
4. Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, $16
Dr. Chan recommends Cetaphil’s Moisturizing Cream. It’s great for dry skin, helps repair the skin’s barrier, contains niacinamide and is hypoallergenic. Not to mention, it’s one of the most popular on the market.
5. Avène XeraCalm A.D. Lipid-Replenishing Balm, $48
Dr. Chan recommends Avene’s XeraCalm A.D. Lipid-Replenishing Balm as one of her favorite eczema creams. Why? It nourishes that itchy feeling, helps rebalance the skin’s microbiome (which is especially important to treat eczema) and seals in moisture for up to 48 hours.
It “helps calm dry, irritated and sensitive skin by helping to reduce itching, and alleviating redness and inflammation,” Dr. Libby notes, too, as one of her favorite eczema creams.
6. Cetaphil Restoraderm Skin Restoring Unscented Body Moisturizer, $19
This body lotion is one of Dr. Libby’s favorites for relieving dry, itchy eczema-prone skin. “It’s armed with colloidal oatmeal, allantoin, shea butter, ceramides, sunflower seed oil and Cetaphil’s patented Filaggrin Technology to help soothe dry, stressed skin, and repair and nourish the skin barrier,” she notes.
7. Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream, $14, original price: $16
As one of Dr. Chan’s favorites for those with allergies especially, Vanicream’s Moisturizing Cream comes in an easy-to-use pump, is fragrance-free and is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores.
“The lotion formulation makes this product cosmetically elegant for the face, while still being effective to minimize eczema flares,” Dr. Mack said.
Best Eczema Ointments
1. Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, $5
Nothing beats the good ol’ reliable Vaseline to get us through rough patches — pun totally intended. Dr. Chan recommends this decades-old ointment for eczema. Simply apply it to your problem areas for itchiness alleviation.
2. Aquaphor Healing Ointment, $16
Dr. Libby adores Aquaphor’s Healing Ointment as one of the best eczema ointments because it’s an “occlusive moisturizer to seal in moisture and prevent transepidermal water loss from the skin.” Not to mention, it’s relatively affordable at less than $20.
Both Dr. Chan and Dr. Mack recommend this as one of her favorite eczema ointments, too. “Formulated with 41% petrolatum, glycerin and panthenol, Aquaphor helps to repair dry, cracked skin in the setting of eczema,” Dr. Mack adds. “It’s also preservative and fragrance-free, helping to minimize the risk of allergic contact dermatitis.”
3. Aveeno Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm with Colloidal Oatmeal & Ceramide, $20
“Made with colloidal oatmeal and ceramides, this formulation helps to soothe dry, itchy skin,” Dr. Mack said. “It also has the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Approval.”
What’s more, Aveeno makes this formula for babies, too (a good buy should your little one experience eczema).
4. Vanicream Moisturizing Ointment, $18
Like Dr. Chan’s cream recommendation, Vanicream — in ointment form — is also one she recommends for people with allergies. Its wonderful, thick formula is also fragrance-free.
5. Cetaphil Healing Ointment, $15
Enter one of Cetaphil’s newest launches and one Dr. Libby is excited about. Making the sensitive skin line complete, this fragrance-free, hypoallergenic healing ointment is lanolin-free and is formulated with 71.5% petrolatum, shea butter, and vitamin E “to protect and heal dry, irritated without leaving behind a greasy residue,” she explains.
Oh, and Dr. Libby labels it her “new favorite petrolatum ointment,” too.
6. EltaMD Moisturizer, $15
EltaMD’s Moisturizer is fragrance-free, helps provide some relief to flaky skin and protects sensitive skin against conditions like eczema and sunburns. As one of Dr. Chan’s top picks, it’s a formula to consider.
Best Facial Eczema Treatments
1. IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream Hydrating Moisturizer, $20
For a moisturizer that works well on all skin types, IT Cosmetics is setting the bar high. Though not a traditional eczema treatment, Dr. Libby enjoys using this moisturizer, particularly for containing ceramides, squalane and hyaluronic acid.
2. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer with Niacinamide, $21
“This is one of my favorite daily face moisturizers that uses humectant moisturizers like glycerin and barrier repair ingredients like ceramides to deeply hydrate and soothe skin,” Dr. Libby said. Plus, it’s well-priced at $20.
Plus, it contains niacinamide, which is a dermatologist-recommended ingredient.
3. Skinfix Eczema+ Dermatitis Face Balm, $28
“Packed with a number of therapeutic ingredients including colloidal oatmeal and sweet almond oil, this product helps to treat and resolve eczema flares,” Dr. Mack said. And, gluten-free, fragrance-free and deemed a “Clean at Sephora” product.
4. SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2, $136
“This is a thicker cream that delivers ultimate hydration to skin to smooth and improve the health of your skin barrier,” Dr. Libby explains. Plus, she recommends it because the formula replenishes the ceramides and healthy fats of the skin “in the optimal ratio” to help repair and restore the skin’s moisture barrier.
Best Eczema Hand Creams
1. O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Unscented Hand Cream, $6
Dr. Chan recommends O’Keeffe’s Hand Cream for eczema, specifically. The formula is infused with glycerin, helps reverse dry and rough skin and creates a protective layer on the skin’s surface, which is ideal to restore the skin’s barrier if prone to eczema.
2. Reserveage Nutrition Hydrating Hand & Foot Cream, $29
According to Dr. Libby, Reserveage’s hand cream is “a rich, luxurious cream that absorbs in quickly to moisturize skin with humectants like glycerin and repair the skin barrier with copper-encapsulated peptide technology.” Not to mention, it’s a collagen booster and comes in the loveliest pink packaging we’ve seen.
3. CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream, $10
This formulation contains dimethicone, ceramides, hyaluronic acid and ceramides. “All of the above ingredients help to lock in hydration and improve the functionality of the skin barrier,” Dr. Mack said. “I use this personally after hand washing multiple times a day; the nongreasy formula makes compliance easy.”
4. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream, $4
As one of Dr. Chan’s top picks, Neutrogena’s formula is brought to you by Norway, with “just a dab healing dry skin.” For less than $5, it’s a steal that’s superb on sensitive skin.
5. Skinfix Eczema+ Hand Repair Cream, $20
Per Dr. Libby’s recommendation, Skinfix’s Eczema+ Hand Repair Cream “has been clinically proven to help treat eczema and improve skin moisturization for dry, cracked skin on hands.” It’s also one of Sephora’s clean products and is named exceptional for dry skin on the beauty retailer’s website.
6. La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Soothing Therapeutic Multi-Purpose Cream, $16
As a cream you can quite literally use anywhere, Dr. Chan recommends this as a solid hand cream if you have an eczematic flare-up. It’s suitable for sensitive skin and helps soothe skin irritation, too.
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