If you’re constantly dealing with red, itchy, dry patches of eczema, you're probably on the hunt for the best eczema creams out there. In fact, it's likely that the first piece of advice you’ll get is to use an over-the-counter eczema cream. But how can you be sure you’re using the right one for you?
I’ve had eczema for years, especially where my neck meets my chin and all over my hands, and I have seemingly tried every eczema lotion on the market to help with my dry patches. It was tough out there—until I found my personal favorite La Roche-Posay Lipikar Eczema Cream ($15, Dermstore) with soothing colloidal oatmeal and inflammation-reducing niacinamide (woo, woo).
I’m glad to have found a cream that works, but what did I learn after a solid five-year search? That eczema products are not one-size-fits-all, and it’s way too easy to spend a bunch of money on products that won’t make your skin any less red and itchy.
What should you look for in an eczema cream?
Eczema is a condition in which the skin barrier is not able to maintain the necessary moisture to provide protection from allergens and environmental stressors. So, the best eczema creams and lotions are “thicker moisturizers,” Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D., double board-certified dermatologist and founder of Mudgil Dermatology, tells SELF.
It’s especially important to look for a product that contains humectant ingredients (like hyaluronic acid and glycerin) as well as moisturizing and skin-protecting ingredients (like ceramides, petrolatum, and colloidal oatmeal). Humectants help add additional hydration, while ceramides and occlusive ingredients reinforce the skin barrier, ultimately helping to protect you from irritants that might trigger an eczema flare.
Of course, there are ingredients you’ll want to avoid, too, Dendy Engelman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, tells SELF. Ingredients to watch out for include fragrances, exfoliating acids (like glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids), and retinol, she says. “These can further irritate the skin by drying them out.”
So, what are the absolute best creams to hydrate, strengthen and protect eczema-prone skin? We wanted to know, so we asked a handful of dermatologists to tell us what moisturizers they commonly recommend to their eczema patients. Here’s what they suggest:
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