Since being diagnosed with eczema a-year-and-a-half ago, I’ve become a connoisseur of lotion and other skin softeners. During the active phase of eczema, the point at which a large share of my body was covered in pink, itchy roughness, the right lotion was absolutely critical to managing not only the disease, but life. The eczema itch can be so distracting that it’s difficult to focus on everyday tasks, but slathering on moisturizer straight out of the shower (within 3 minutes of getting out) can buy some time to think about anything other than the itch.
Thing is, it can take some trial and error to find the right lotion or combination of moisturizers. Above is a photo of the moisturizers I’ve tried. Ideally you want to get something without fragrance, that isn’t too greasy or sticky and does a good job of holding the moisture in your skin for a while. I looked for moisturizers with the fewest ingredients possible.
When dealing with the worst of my eczema, I applied moisturizer practically every hour, so it pays to try different things until you find something that works for you. You’ll get to be good friends with your moisturizer.
Here’s what I tried and how it worked for me:
Cocoa Butter – Smells kind of like chocolate, which my dog liked but I didn’t care for. Too sweet. Also, it’s hard and waxy and has to be melted in a microwave in order to apply it easily.
Pure coconut oil – This can be found in the natural foods section, sometimes in the pharmacy, or in the cooking oil section of the grocery store. A nice, silky texture, this wasn’t too bad during the driest time of my eczema, but it can be messy when having to apply it often.
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula – There was something about this I didn’t like, but I can’t remember what.
Vitamin E oil – This is one of my successful moisturizers. I used it during the active phase of my eczema, typically by mixing it with Vaseline and/or aloe vera gel and/or coconut oil. I still use Vitamin E oil. It’s the first thing I put on my skin after a shower.
TriDerma Eczema Fast Healing – This was not comfortable on my skin.
Vanicream & Vanicream Lite – The thick, heavy-duty Vanicream (available at Walgreen’s) works well for my eczema. Vanicream Lite, not so much. It doesn’t hold in enough moisture. When I was prescribed a steroid cream for the first round of active eczema (not a good long-term solution because of the side effects), the dermatologist wrote a prescription that told the pharmacist to mix the steroid into Vanicream. It was a brilliant move because the Vanicream allows you to spread a lot of moisturizer over your skin without so much steroid cream.
Eucerin Original Healing Soothing Repair Creme and Eucerin Skin Calming Daily Moisturizing Creme – I started with the Eucerin Skin Calming creme and found that it worked fairly well if I had a mild patch of eczema. It wasn’t so great when the eczema was very red and dry. It kind of stung. I switched to the Eucerin Original Healing creme and had great luck with it. I still use it for my eczema, even if it’s mild.
Vaseline – Good old Vaseline. This was helpful during the worst of my eczema because it really holds in moisture. I typically mixed it with aloe vera gel and Vitamin E oil, which gave it a lighter texture. It’s pretty messy, so best to use this during a bad flareup. Because it’s oily, it can soak into your clothes. Yuck.
Vegetable glycerin – I used a few drops of this when mixing up my Vaseline/Vitamin E/aloe vera moisturizer. It made the concoction smoother. I also tried applying just a little straight to my skin. Incredibly silky, but I’m not sure it did much and it’s quite wet.
Mineral oil – This was too greasy for my liking.
Aloe vera gel – I used aloe vera gel for quite a while during my active phase eczema, probably because aloe vera is supposed to be very good for healing skin. The problem was that it stung, even mixed with Vaseline and Vitamin E oil. Not so great for my comfort.
I also tried Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy and Gold Bond Ultimate Healing lotions but neither felt good on my skin.
My current moisturizing regime is to put on Vitamin E oil, followed by Eucerin Original Healing creme, followed by Vanicream. I use all of these in the morning, after I step out of the shower and towel off. During the day, when I feel the need to reapply moisturizer, I typically only use the Eucerin.
If I’m feeling particularly itchy, I might use witch hazel to quell the itch. It’s not lotion, but then it’s also not this:
Yes, common household bleach happens to be the best thing I’ve found for my eczema. I put a small amount (1/2 cup in a tub filled to the overflow holes, 1/4 cup for 1/2 that amount) in a tub twice a week and soak for 10-15 minutes. I also put a splash of it in the bathroom sink each night and use the solution on active eczema spots (currently my elbow creases and neck).
Sounds crazy, right? So crazy that I resisted this for the longest time. But, the National Eczema Association recommends it and there’s also been a study on it. And, judging from my experience, it works very well.
If you’ve got eczema, what moisturizer(s) work for you?