Patients looking for Eczema Relief are often counseled to moisturize to find comfort. This makes sense because eczema is characterized by red, inflamed, itchy, and cracked skin; all of which can be alleviated by proper moisturization. But not all moisturizers are created equal. Many patients reach for standard lotions when the dry, itchy feeling begins, but it’s possible that your lotion is making your eczema worse.
Classes of Moisturizer
All moisturizers are classified by the ratio of oil to water in their ingredients. They all contain various other ingredients, healing agents, herbs, essential oils, etc. geared towards easing the symptoms and healing the sensitive eczema skin.
Lotion is the product most associated with moisturizing the skin, but is actually the least effective. With the lowest oil content of all the moisturizers, and filled with preservatives that can cause painful burning on broken skin, lotion can make some cases of eczema worse. Alcohol products are often used to preserve lotion, but alcohol evaporates quickly, further drying already dry skin. Avoid lotions whenever possible.
Creams have a higher oil content than ointments and are often the base used for topical steroids. Many parents are looking to avoid topical steroid use for their children with eczema because of the many side effects and withdrawal that comes when trying to stop using it. Creams also utilize alcohol for preservation and can further dry eczema skin.
Ointments, like EczeMate, are the preferred moisturizer for eczema patients. With little to no water content, and natural options that avoid alcohol products, ointments create a barrier over the skin to keep moisture in the skin and irritants out. Ointments are often described as feeling “greasy” on the skin. This is a normal result of the high oil content. If you have concerns about the ointment getting onto clothing or causing clothes to stick to your skin, try wrapping the afflicted area with clean strips of cotton after you’ve applied your ointment. This will provide an extra barrier to skin irritation.