Emollients for Eczema: What You Should Know

(Summary:

Here is everything you wanted to know about emollients for eczema.)

Emollient is a type of moisturizer which is not cosmetic. It is available as ointments, gels, creams and lotions. It eases itch and helps the skin stay comfortable. This is because it keeps the skin moist and prevents dryness or cracking. All these “positives” make emollient an effective remedy to ease eczema flares.

As we have said earlier, emollient is available in many forms. Here we have categorized them into…

  • Topical creams or leave-on emollients
  • Bath emollients or bath additives
  • Soap substitutes

Topical Creams or Leave-On Emollients:

Cream:

They are prepared from a mixture of fat and water so that they can feel light and cool to the skin. This is why many people with eczema prefer creams for day time use. However, the preservatives in the cream may irritate some people.

Ointment:

Unlike creams, ointments are free from preservatives. However, they are greasy and may lead to stickiness. Ointments are effective in trapping the moisture; thereby they are great for dry and thickened skin. Avoid using them on weeping eczema (that should be treated with a cream or lotion instead).

Lotions:

Having more water than fat makes lotions less effective than ointment and creams. They are good to apply to the hairy areas of the body.

Eczema Emollients as Soap Substitute

Soap can increase dryness and should be avoided by the people with eczema. The hands are prone to the greater risk, as they are washed very often. Emollient soaps don’t create lather but can clean the skin. Eczema soap should be applied before bathing, washing and showering or while in the bathtub.

Emollients as a Bath Additive

Emollients are also available as bath oil to be used in the shower or on a sponge. They should be applied to the all over the body before showering off. Emollient shower gels are also available.

How to Apply Emollients for Eczema?

Emollients should be applied within 3 minutes of bathing or washing the skin. This is the time when skin has excessive moisture that should be trapped as soon as possible. Use emollients liberally and frequently thrice a day. Make sure to apply them gently in the direction of the hair growth. Avoid rubbing them and down aggressively as it can cause itching, block hair follicles or may trigger more heat that can lead to inflammation.

Emollient should be used regularly, even when the eczema is soothed as it will prevent further flares.

The regular usage of emollients at home can increase the risk of slippage as the grease can travel to the floor and bathroom. To avoid such risk, protect the floor with a towel or bath mat. The bathroom floor should be washed with a washing liquid and water if you use bath additive or soap substitute.

How to Find the Right Emollients for Eczema?

The best emollient is the one which can go well with your skin. For finding that emollient, you may have to test different brands to see their compatibility with your skin. Consult your doctor or pharmacist on the different products available. They will suggest you right emollient for your eczema along with the right amount to use it.

Here are Some Factors to Consider While Choosing Emollients for Eczema:

  • Skin dryness, severity and stages of flares.
  • Patient’s preferences.
  • Effectiveness and cosmetic “application” of an emollient.
  • Usage of a wide range of emollients to find the right one.
  • Use creams and lotions for red, inflamed areas of the skin as their water based formulation will cool the skin.
  • Ointments are great for dry skin as they can trap the moisturizer better than the creams.

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