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All about eczema and ingredients that help — plus 13 skin products that provide relief

Experts share do's and don'ts when it comes to managing this chronic condition, as well as their top recommendations.
Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

If you live with a long-term skin condition like eczema, you're aware of how easy it is for your skin to react to certain products, making it flare up at the most inconvenient times — and making you immensely uncomfortable.

Eczema, the common name for atopic dermatitis, is the most common form of chronic inflammation of the skin. Also called the "itch that rashes," the disease is known to make your skin dry, red and itchy. One in five children and up to one in 10 adults live with eczema.

"Eczema is an inherited, inflammatory skin disease," says Dr. Dina Strachan, a board-certified dermatologist in New York. She added that the condition begins in infancy and lasts your whole life.

Specifically, research shows that 60 percent of people with eczema experience their first symptoms by their first birthday, 75 percent experience symptoms by age five, and up to 30 percent first get those symptoms as adults.

Eczema also makes you more sensitive to products such as creams, washes and perfumes; the wrong skin care products could trigger a flare-up and worsen symptoms, while the right ones could provide relief. To learn more, keep scrolling or use the links below.

What is eczema? | What to look for | Best skin care products for eczema | Editor-loved picks | FAQs | How we chose | Meet our experts

What is eczema and what causes it?

Eczema is a common skin disorder that causes your skin to get dry, red and itchy, and may give it a blotchy rash.

"Scientists haven't really determined the cause of eczema. It's believed to be a mix of environmental and genetic factors," says Dr. Kemunto Mokaya, a board-certified dermatologist in Texas.

People with eczema have a "leaky" skin barrier that prevents their skin from retaining enough moisture. Without the protection of a healthy barrier to lock in moisture, their skin loses fluid, making it drier and more likely to get infected, or for harmful chemicals to enter the skin. That's why those with eczema are more easily irritated by common chemicals and allergy-causing substances.

What should I look for in eczema skin care products?

A daily moisturizing routine that helps lock in moisture is essential if you want to reduce symptoms and experience relief.

But you have to avoid any substances that can worsen your symptoms. Choosing skin care products is a balancing act: You have to avoid irritants while looking for ingredients that give your skin the moisture and cleansing it needs.

There are certain terms and labels you can look for to help with this choice. Products with these labels are more likely to help moisturize your skin without triggering a flare-up or exposing you to other health risks.

  • Moisturizing. Cleansers with this label often contain ceramides, glycerin or hyaluronic acid, which are a good start: They help hydrate your skin and restore the natural skin barrier.
  • Fragrance-free. Any perfumes or scents can potentially irritate your skin; when in doubt, you are safer without them.
  • Non-foaming. Foaming cleansers tend to dry out your skin more, causing more irritation. Non-foaming products are typically gentler and less likely to strip your skin of all natural oils.
  • Hypoallergenic. Products with this label are formulated with minimal or no allergy-causing substances.
  • Sulfate-free. Products with sulfates can strip your skin of its natural oils and worsen irritation.
  • pH-balanced. This helps to keep your skin from losing its acidity and protects it from harmful bacteria.

If your symptoms continue to worsen or nothing you do to take care of your skin provides relief, it's a good idea to see your doctor, dermatologist or other medical professional. Many other conditions in addition to eczema can cause red, irritated skin, so your professional care team can take a look and advise you accordingly.

From expert-approved gentle face washes to soothing lotions that relieve irritation, here are the best skin care products for people with eczema.

Best skin care products for eczema

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

The dryness that comes with eczema can make your skin feel tight and sore. But this moisturizer comes complete with petrolatum, emollients like sweet almond oil, and humectants like glycerin, which are meant to lock in moisture. It’s a non-greasy, fragrance-free product that limits other breakouts like acne, and it can be used for your whole body.

"This petrolatum-based cream is a great way to rescue dry skin," says cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Rita Linkner. "It has a great price point and comes in a readily accessible tub, so it's easy to get it on your body post-shower every morning."

Vanicream Moisturizing Cream with Pump

This moisturizing cream provides all the nourishing your skin needs without any irritants or clogged pores. Its fragrance-free soothing formula earned a seal of acceptance from the National Eczema Association. Suitable for the whole family, it comes with a neat little pump to avoid spills, waste and smearing.

"I like this cream because it's extremely hypoallergenic and void of many chemicals that are known to cause eczema to flare up," dermatologist Dr. Marc Glashofer says. "It's also safe to use on all parts of the body and face and is relatively inexpensive."

Vaseline All-Over Body Balm Stick

Need to soothe your eczema while traveling? This sleek, compact balm might be what your luggage is missing. The triple-purified petrolatum in the formula is designed to boost hydration for dry skin and helps moisturize cracks and irritation. Plus, the stick applicator makes it easy to care for your eczema symptoms in hard-to-reach spots (like your back).

"The Vaseline [All-Over Body Balm] is mess-free — you don't need to rub anything at all. Just glide on and go. It absorbs easily so you all you feel is healthy, protected skin that stays hydrated," says dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, who also heads up cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital's department of dermatology.

Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream

You can experience eczema at any age, but finding products that are soothing and safe for younger children is particularly challenging. This full-body lotion from Eucerin can be used on kids as young as three months in addition to delivering 24-hour hydration. The true rock stars of this cream are the colloidal oatmeal and ceramides, according to Glashofer.

"[These ingredients] help strengthen the skin's protective barrier. In addition, this cream contains licorice root extract, a natural anti-inflammatory agent that helps reduce itching and burning of the skin. It is free of fragrances and dyes, too," Glashofer tells us.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Locking moisture into your skin, helping your skin regain its natural oils, and leaving your skin smooth, soft and nourished — all of these are tasks CeraVe Moisturizing Cream can help with.

This cream is full of hyaluronic acid while staying free of fragrance and irritants. This makes it a great option for those with eczema, according to dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo.

"I love this cream because it uses ceramides, an essential ingredient that helps repair lipid-depleted, eczematous skin," Lupo tells TODAY.

Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream

Want to take on itchiness, redness, dryness and irritation all at once? This cream helps tackle some of the most annoying symptoms of eczema; it's no surprise it received the National Eczema Association Seal of Approval. Its key ingredients: colloidal oatmeal and ceramides.

"Aveeno eczema products are great. They're fragrance-free and their soothing, anti-inflammatory colloidal oatmeal decreases inflammation, while the emollients work to improve the barrier lipids," Lupo says.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

Dealing with dryness, redness and irritation? This hydrating moisturizer with a soothing gel formula can help with that. This oil-free lotion from Neutrogena is absorbed easily and also wears quite well under makeup.

"This ultralight moisturizer is loaded with hyaluronic acid, which acts like a sponge to hold in hydration. Hyaluronic acid can bind up to 1,000 times its weight in water, which is important, especially in dry and eczema-prone skin," Zeichner explains.

Kamedis Eczema Therapy Cream

When the going gets tough with eczema flare-ups, you'll want to have a fast-acting treatment on hand. This eczema therapy cream by Kamedis can be used on the face and body to calm and protect irritated skin. The key ingredient in this formula is soothing botanical rhubarb.

"This cream combines skin-repairing ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid along with Chinese botanical extracts that have been shown to help soothe inflammation and rebalance the skin’s microbiome," says Zeichner.

Skinfix Eczema + Hand Repair Cream

The thin skin on our hands are already prone to dryness; those with eczema are even more likely to encounter dry, cracked skin. This restorative cream is designed to protect and treat cracks and itchiness with the help of soothing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal and sweet almond oil.

"This brand is all about clean beauty and lacks many of the harsh preservatives you typically find in products. The colloidal oatmeal and soothing oils in this cream do a great job of repairing hands and dry cuticles," Linkner says.

La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+M Triple Repair Body Moisturizer for Dry Skin

Tough skin conditions need dedicated solutions, such as this moisturizer from La Roche-Posay. This body moisturizer uses natural oils like shea butter, skin-identical lipids like Ceramide 3, and prebiotic antioxidant-enriched thermal water to lock in moisture on every inch of your skin.

It's also a cruelty-free product suitable for babies, favorably reviewed by tens of thousands and recognized with the National Eczema Association with its Seal of Acceptance. It's also safe for people receiving radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

“This is my all-time favorite. It is formulated with shea butter, glycerin, niacinamide (Vitamin B), and prebiotic thermal spring water. The thermal spring water helps to normalize the microbiome of eczematous skin, which is normally unbalanced and inflamed,” says dermatologist Dr. Vladyslava Doktor, founder of Skin Center Boston.

Neova Cu3 Lip Repair

Much like facial and body skin, lips can also experience eczema flare-ups and get dry, red and scaly. Linkner swears by this restorative balm that's formulated with a copper peptide complex.

"The copper antioxidant capacity of this product works to repair skin's broken down barrier fast. It's my favorite for patients who are prone to dry, peeling lips that crack at the corners," Linkner said.

CLn Facial Cleanser

Cleansing your face is a critical step in one's skin care routine, but cleansers can be a bit abrasive on eczema-prone skin, which can lead to more redness and itching. The CLn Facial Cleanser delivers just the right amount of wash without the itch. This gentle face wash cleans and moisturizes at the same time with the help of glycerin — and it even has the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance.

"This product is uniquely formulated to cleanse sensitive and delicate facial skin and maintain skin’s moisture balance," dermatologist Dr. Alan Parks explains.

Avène XeraCalm A.D. Lipid-Replenishing Balm

The thermal spring water in this balm is meant to soothe skin, while evening primrose oil helps lock in hydration. Parks says it's perfect for those experiencing the signature redness and irritation of eczema.

"This ultra-rich moisturizing balm is ideal for those with very [dry] to severely dry skin," Parks tells us. "It directly targets itching, redness and irritation to nourish and restore skin."

Eczema skin care products our editors highly recommend

Selfmade Corrective Experience Comfort Cream

Shop TODAY associate SEO editor Fran Sales, who's experienced the symptoms of hand eczema since childhood, found this gel-cream hybrid by "psychodermatology" brand Selfmade a welcome change from the ointments and jellies she's used in the past.

"It looked surprisingly dissimilar to other occlusives I’ve used for my eczema, which are normally thick or greasy. Instead, this has the creaminess of a lotion combined with the lightness of a gel — a texture I was unused to but pleasantly surprised by," she writes in her review, adding that it also imparts a pleasant cooling sensation.

In addition to the usual hydrating and soothing ingredients like niacinamide, camellia leaf extract and glycerin, this cream uses the plant-derived ingredient Cortinhib G, which counterbalances the cortisol (stress hormone) to help your skin reinforce its natural barrier.

Tubby Todd All-Over Ointment

Sales, as well as more than 5,000 other five-star reviewers, vouch for this FDA-approved, fragrance-free ointment to tackle eczema in both babies and adults with sensitive skin. (Note: It's also available in a subtle rosemary and lavender scent.) And Sales can attest that you can literally use this all over — including her lips!

Unlike petroleum jelly, which Sales often used to soothe eczema-related itching and dryness, this one functions similarly, but is a lot creamier and less sticky. It uses plant-based ingredients that include jojoba esters, colloidal oatmeal and camellia leaf extract. Plus, it's been tested by both pediatricians and dermatologists.

We also highly recommend the brand's gentle and fragrance-free (or subtly scented) Everyday Lotion and Hair & Body Wash for those with sensitive skin.

Magic Molecule The Solution

Sales was skeptical when she came across the description for this spray solution and its equally fanciful name. But after she saw its almost immediate results (and the fact that it's often sold out on the brand's site), she became a believer.

Magic Molecule is a single hypoallergenic, all-natural, alcohol-free and fragrance-free solution that is said to help boost the healing of not just the symptoms of eczema, but also bug bites, pimples, sunburns, cuts and more. And that's while being safe for even the most sensitive of skins —) and yes, that includes babies. What's more, it's certified by the Eczema Association, is TSA-friendly and comes in a two-pack (a steal, if you ask us).

The secret ingredient is hypochlorous acid, something produced by white blood cells for healing purposes, and something that the brand replicated in an FDA-cleared lab.

So far, Sales has successfully sped up healing on a sunburn, facial acne, facial redness, and a particularly vicious bug bites. When she has no particular ailments, she likes to use this as a toner spray on her face before bed.

Questions about eczema, answered by experts

Can I get rid of eczema permanently?

“Eczema is forever,” says Strachan. A chronic condition that many are born with, getting rid of eczema permanently may not be possible. However, many people experience fewer symptoms as they grow older, and proper skin care can also reduce your symptoms.

What am I lacking if I have eczema?

Eczema is a complex condition, and no single nutrient or substance (or lack thereof) is known to cause it. However, some studies suggest that people with eczema may have deficiencies in certain nutrients, such as vitamins D, E and A, zinc, and essential fatty acids. An imbalance in your microbiome may also play a role. If you have concerns about your microbiome or meeting your vitamin and mineral needs, speak to your medical care team.

How can I boost my immunity to eczema?

There is no one specific way to boost your immune system against eczema. However, you can support your overall health and potentially reduce the risk of eczema flare-ups with FRESH, an acronym that outlines specific changes to your lifestyle:

  • F - Food. Ensure you eat a balanced diet rich in whole foods.
  • R - Rest. Ensure you are getting enough sleep to boost your overall health and immune function. Aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
  • E - Exercise. Regular exercise can help support overall health and may have anti-inflammatory effects. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
  • S - Stress control. Stress triggers eczema flare-ups, so it's essential to find ways to manage stress.
  • H - Habits. avoid habits that weaken your immune system and skin barrier. These may include scratching the skin, taking long, hot showers, using irritating and harsh products, not moisturizing, and wearing irritating clothing. Other general habits to break include smoking, excessive alcohol intake and more.

How can I treat or calm eczema without steroids?

The products we've selected will help you manage your eczema without steroids. However, if you have a severe flare-up or fail to get relief, your doctor may prescribe steroids or other prescription-only medications.

What foods should I avoid if I have eczema?

Foods to avoid if you have eczema are not clear-cut. Various people have reported that dairy, processed carbohydrates and nuts worsen their symptoms. Alcohol and cigarette use can also exacerbate symptoms. On the other hand, experts recommend a diet rich in whole-natural foods, fruits and vegetables. If you have concerns about any foods, speak with your care team.

What are your top do’s and don’ts for managing eczema?

These are Mokaya's suggested do's and don'ts for managing eczema:


  1. Use gentle products and always keep your skin well-moisturized.
  2. Identify and avoid triggers. If you don't know what your triggers are, you may need to keep a diary to track your symptoms and identify what triggers cause flare-ups.
  3. Use a humidifier, especially during months when the air is cold and dry.
  4. Practice stress management and try to learn new methods and techniques. Stress can trigger eczema flare-ups, so finding ways to manage stress, such as through meditation, yoga or deep breathing exercises, can be helpful.


  1. Don't scratch; it increases inflammation and damages the skin barrier.
  2. Don't use hot water or take long showers. And don't forget to moisturize after your shower.
  3. Don’t use harsh products.
  4. Don't ignore your treatments or medication.

Should I shower every day if I have eczema?

You can shower every day as long as you do it right. A non-foaming wash, tepid water and a quick shower, followed by full body moisturizer, are better for eczema than long soaks in hot soapy water, which can strip your skin of its oils and worsen any redness or itching.

Should I cover eczema or let it breathe?

“It really depends on the location and the nature of the eczema," says Mokaya. "If it is the weepy kind, that would benefit from a dressing. But the dry, chronic kind is usually better left to breathe.”

How we choose the best products for eczema

Skin care preferences and responses to products and ingredients often vary from person to person. And the sheer array of creams, cleansers and soaps can be … a lot. That's why the Shop TODAY team took care with its selection of a range of great products backed by the following:

  • Expert recommendations by dermatologists
  • Medical experience
  • Current research
  • Rave and informative user reviews

Meet our experts

  • Dr. Vladyslava Doktor, DO, is a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of Skin Center Boston. She focuses on integrative medicine and dermatology, skin cancer, rosacea and more.
  • Dr. Marc Glashofer, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in Mohs Micrographic Surgery and cosmetic dermatology. A published lecturer, Glashofer is based in West Orange, New Jersey.
  • Dr. Rita Linkner, MD, FAAD, is a New York-based board-certified dermatologist who also serves patients in Miami, Aspen and more. She's also the founder and medical director of RVL Skincare.
  • Dr. Mary P. Lupo, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in New Orleans. She has been a leading expert in non-surgical skin rejuvenation since 1983.
  • Dr. Kemunto Mokaya, MD, MHS, is a board-certified dermatologist based in Houston, Texas. She's also a health science expert, mindset coach and speaker.
  • Dr. Alan J. Parks, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Eastside Dermatology & Skin Care Center, where he is also medical director. He specializes in cosmetic and surgical dermatology and is based in Columbus, Ohio.
  • Dr. Dina D. Strachan, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist, consultant speaker, coach and author based in New York. She's also an expert in biomedical informatics and health technology.
  • Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and frequent media speaker who specializes in treating acne, rosacea and more. He's also Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology and an Associate Professor of Dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.