Ive got a love/hate relationship with winter. For all of its pros, such as holidays spent with loved ones, snow sports (sledding, anyone?), and hair that’s free from humidity frizz, there are just as many cons to consider. For many, the dreary weather can not only bring about the winter blues and a chill, it can also incite skin to rebel with a dreaded eczema flare-up that requires a whole slew of specialized over-the-counter and prescription lotions and creams for dry, scaly skin — aka known as the best products for eczema.
What Is eczema?
For those of you lucky enough to be blissfully unaware of what, exactly, such a term entails, allow us to explain.
According to the National Eczema Association (NEA) eczema is, by its most simple definition, a condition or a “group of conditions that cause the skin to be red, itchy, and inflamed.” For those, like myself, that suffer from it, however, it can be more like a living nightmare.
I, like an estimated 30 million other Americans, was marked with the disease at an early age by the rough, red, scaly patches covering the length of both of my forearms, which caused me to scratch incessantly — oftentimes until I bled. Out of necessity, my grade-school wardrobe consisted largely of turtlenecks, the sleeves of which proved long enough to cover my Freddy Krueger-like limbs, shielding my classmates from the horrible secret I hid just below my sweater’s surface.
Thankfully, my skin gradually improved with adolescence, clearing up just enough to allow for arm-baring t-shirts and even the occasional tank top. Still, my adulthood has been peppered with unexpected flare-ups. That super itchy (and puffy!) reaction to certain tattoo inks? Eczema. The perfectly circular patch of skin that looks (and itches!) just like ringworm? Just my old pal eczema, popping in for a visit. That random and sudden sensitivity to sunlight or my über-flaky inner ear canals? Yep, you guessed it — eczema again!
With no cure on the horizon, my eczema may never, ever go away, but throughout the years, I’ve discovered a few ways to manage my condition, much of which revolves around keeping my body super hydrated and stocking up on a roster of go-to products that get me by on bad days, too.
The Best Products for Eczema
In addition to the list of goods the NEA has ranked for excellence with a seal of acceptance for eczema sufferers, I’ve found plenty of relief from my itchy epidermis in the following finds. Read on to see the best products for eczema Woman’s World editors and other fellow skin sufferers have deemed to be Godsends when it comes to dealing with eczema-prone skin.
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Eau Thermal Avene Akerat Cream
Where to buy: $32, Amazon
For eczema sufferers, no ordinary moisturizer will do. When my skin is extra parched, (which it tends to be more often that not), scented and chemical-laden lotions can set it afire. Eau Thermal Avène Akrérat cream is formulated for “very dry, rough, and scaly skin,” is hypoallergenic, and uses a triple-threat combination of salicylic acid (for nixing thick, flaky skin cells), lactic acid (for added moisture), and spring water (to soothe, soften, and calm). What’s more, it treats not only eczema, but keratosis pilaris, a skin condition which causes tiny, rough-feeling bumps (often seen on the upper arms and thighs) which, according to my dermatologist, who recommended this cream, often goes hand-in-hand with eczema.
Puriya Mother Of All Creams
Where to buy: $29.97, Amazon
Though pricier than many of the items on our list, Amazon purchasers say this soothing cream is well worth the investment. It's infused with botanical oils that will help to soften skin, plus 13 other nature-derived ingredients, including honey, shea butter, and aloe vera.
“This will become your holy grail if you find yourself with an eczema flare up,” one reviewer swore. “I use it on my face/around my eyes (carefully) and it doesn't clog pores or make skin worse than it already is. In fact, it's pleasantly moisturizing and cooling.”
Added another, “I have dyshidrotic eczema on both hands. I have been in near constant flare for almost six months at this point. … All I can say is ‘wow.’ … I am not kidding when I say that the burning and pain from the areas of cracked skin stopped hurting within minutes. The dry scaly parts stopped itching. … It was the first night in months that I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night with terrible itching on my hands.”
Cortizone 10 Intensive Healing Anti-Itch Cream
Where to buy: $7.39, Target
Though the steroids and other active ingredients found in this drugstore gem are generally not recommended for long-term use, or in sensitive areas like your face due to its skin-thinning properties, it will definitely do the trick in a pinch. I’ve seen small scaly spots disappear seemingly overnight after using just a smidge! Its hydrocortisone works by blocking enzymes that are released from skin irritation to constrict blood vessels, subsequently reducing swelling and redness. Essentially, it's the same stuff your doc would prescribe during a particularly itchy spell, but for some reason, this stuff seems to work even better for me than the prescription grade, despite having a lower percentage of strength. (Go figure.) It's also packed with healing aloe plus vitamins A and E to promote quick healing.
SVA Organics Emu Oil
Where to buy: $16.99, Amazon
A 2013 study showed that applying this anti-inflammatory elixir to affected areas "significantly" improved itching, erythema, and scales — particularly with those suffering from seborrheic dermatitis, which is a chronic form of eczema found on the scalp. Though it was not as effective as Rxs, such as hydrocortisone and clotrimazole, it provides a nice, natural alternative for those who prefer to go the organic route. It also comes with a 100 percent money-back guarantee.
Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment
Where to buy: $6.97, Walmart
I don’t think I would’ve made it through those early days of scaliness without these little blessings in a box. Made from 100 percent natural colloidal oatmeal, the milky soaks they provided were my only relief on days my skin hurt so bad I cried. I haven’t had to use them in years, but I remember them well, and highly recommend.
SkinSmart Antimicrobial Eczema Therapy
Where to buy: $15.54, Amazon
Earning an impressive five-star rating from the NEA, Skin Smart'’s unique formula targets bacteria, such as the common Staphylococcus aureus strain, which researchers say may be linked to eczema flare-ups in young patients. Since it’s free of steroids, it’s also FDA-approved for use around the eyes and mouth, where more sensitive skin tends to suffer.
The Honest Company Baby Laundry Detergent
Where to buy: $12.95, The Honest Company
Even everyday tasks, such as washing your clothes, can be cause for concern when dealing with eczema. Gentle enough for even babies, not only is this hypoallergenic detergent endorsed by the likes of Jessica Alba, the founder behind this consumer-safe, ethical brand, it's also a top NEA pick for those with sensitive, eczema-ridden skin. It comes free of dyes, synthetic fragrances, and other common household irritants.
Mustela Stelatopia Cleansing Cream
Where to buy: $12.50, Amazon
One of only a few cleansers from the NEA to be rated with a 5/5 seal of acceptance, this plant-based, fragrance-free cream gets its soothing powers from sunflower distillate and avocado perseose (a natural patented ingredient) that work to hydrate and preserve. The organization has also dubbed it gentle enough for a newborn, which means it’s soft enough for those of us with insanely sensitive skin, too.
Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment
Where to buy: $12.41 (Originally $13.79), Target
On winter days when even a specially-formulated lotion isn’t enough to soothe your painfully thirsty skin, it’s time to pull out the big guns. Enter: Aquaphor healing ointment. Like Vaseline, this glycerin-based salve infuses provitamin B5 to help quickly repair any cracked areas that have gone beyond the point of moisturizing (think: your poor heels). It’s also a top-recommended product for healing a new tattoo, so you’ll get double the bang for your buck — even Nicole Kidman is a fan!
Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser
Where to buy: From $8.99, Amazon
Though Vanicream is formulated to work with all skin types, it’s especially great for those with atopic dermatitis (aka eczema) and other pesky skin conditions such as psoriasis, ichthyosis, and rosacea. "I recommend Vanicream’s Gentle Facial Cleanser for many of my patients with sensitive skin, eczema, or allergies," Manhattan dermatologist Dendy Englemen, MD, previously told First for Women. "It’s gentle formula provides thorough cleansing without the worry of irritation or skin reactions that many traditional cleansers can cause."