Put the Lotion Down! Moisturizing Eczema-Prone Skin

It’s getting cold across many parts of the country, and cooler, drier weather often means itchier, flakier skin for those with atopic dermatitis. If you or your family are experiencing renewed or continued symptoms, it’s time to get serious about hydration and home-care. One thing you shouldn’t do, though, is turn to lotion.

When it comes to moisturizing eczema-prone skin, the more oil the better. Lotions have very little oil in them, and many include added ingredients like fragrances and alcohols that can sting, burn, and irritate the skin. This often can make an eczema problem worse.

Instead of lotion, try creams or ointments. Ointments — such as mineral oil or petroleum jelly — have the most oil in them and therefore lock in the most moisture. A common, low-cost option is Aquaphor, which can be found at most drug and grocery stores. My daughter has used it, and it works. However, if you prefer not to use petroleum or mineral oil, there are other options.

Alternative ointments for atopic dermatitis

TruKid Easy Eczema Cream is a thick ointment that went on smoothly, didn’t irritate my daughter’s skin, and worked. (It’s also one of my personal favorites for when I’m having an active flare, which doesn’t happen often.) I bought it on Amazon.

Coconut Oil is a great ointment for eczema, as long as the person isn’t allergic or intolerant to coconut. It was my go-to for my son when he was a baby because it’s gentle and its antibacterial, antimicrobial properties helped soothe inflammation, which means he slept better.

All ointments will leave a greasy or sticky feeling for a few minutes. It fades quickly, though, as your skin absorbs the oil. However, if you can’t stand the feeling, creams may be a better choice for you.

Creams for Atopic Dermatitis

I tend to use a fragrance-free goat-milk cream made by a local artisan. If you don’t have a local arts market or farmers market near you, you often can find these online.

Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream often works well, too. Many people swear by it, and I used it on both of my kids whenever we were traveling or my coconut oil ran out. It’s a good product, widely available, and inexpensive. It also has the seal of approval from the National Eczema Foundation.

Tips for Best Use

  • If you’re using a steroid or topical prescription medication, make sure to use that as directed before moisturizing.
  • Moisturize within three minutes of showering or bathing to lock-in water moisture.
  • Use a thick layer of cream or ointment. Don’t worry about the excess! The skin will absorb it in just a few moments.
  • Choose whatever product works for you, but make sure to avoid dyes and fragrances, both of which will only make things worse.

With a good moisturizer and consistent use, you’ll help avoid the winter flare-ups so many of us experience. You’ll also be building good habits for home skincare that will last you, and/or your kids, throughout the year.

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