The quest to find products that work for eczema-prone skin can be a long and, often expensive, journey. It’s a minefield of so-called miracle cures that don’t always work - but these are the ones that Stylist beauty contributor, Georgia Drew, relies on time and time again.
For most of my life, I’ve had eczema on my arms and wrists. It’s fairly common in children, but it is more prevalent in adults than you might realise. Dr Adam Friedmann, consultant dermatologist at The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic, says, atopic eczema is the most common type, and it affects approximately 1.5million UK adults.
This is the type of eczema I suffer from. Most of the time my skin is dry and sensitive, but once or twice a year I get a flare up. When it gets really bad, it feels like nothing will make it better, so all I want to do is lay in a bath of yoghurt to help soothe the itch.
How my skin looks is a constant worry, too. That might sound dramatic but I get so paranoid about what other people think: is that man on the bus is staring in disgust at my wrists? What about the woman in Pret that I buy my lunch from? I worry about whether it will clear in time for that party I’m going to so I can wear the outfit I’ve been planning for months. I panic I’ll never be able to wear perfume again, and instead have to go through life smelling of a fusty, prescription-only balm that I got from my doctor.
“Atopic eczema is inflammation of the skin characterised by redness, swelling, itching and excoriation,” Friedmann says, and it’s related to other allergic conditions such as asthmas and hayfever. As sufferers will know, moisturising is key to keeping it at bay, but this isn’t a one size fits all type of condition. “Everybody is different and sometimes creams might work on one person, but not another. Dermatologists generally recommend greasy, moisturising creams,” he says.
“It’s also important to avoid irritating ingredients and one of the most common ones is soap,” says Friedmann. So, if you haven’t already, ditch the fruity shower gels, scented lotions and the long hot baths. You also need to be conscious of anything that could trigger eczema, apart from the obvious soaps and fragranced products - switching to a non-bio laundry detergent helps, as does avoiding wool (the thought of woolly jumpers against skin makes me wince!).
As far as eczema ‘cures’ go, I’ve tried my fair share. At a particularly low point, my mum sent me a carton of aloe vera water in the post because she heard that it would help my skin. Sadly, it went off in the post, but I didn’t know any better and drank two shots a day until it dawned on me. No wonder it tasted like pond water, but such is the desperation of an eczema sufferer.
As somebody who’s often been unaffected by a balm or lotion, I’ve learnt that if my skin shows no sign of improvement then I move onto the next product, so that means I’ve tried my fair share of products - and these are the products that have worked for me - so lather them over your skin and hopefully you too will see your patches disappear to reveal fresh, happy skin.
Bria Organics Relief Repair Replenish Balm
This balm saved me from my worst outbreak by providing an intense hit of treatment and lasting moisture. Keep a pot with you all day and apply every few hours to irritated areas. The texture is quite greasy which makes it a little bit impractical when you’re wearing certain materials, but who wears silk that frequently anyway? The 100% natural and organic ingredients like rosehip oil and beeswax will soothe and calm your skin back to normality.
Avène Xeracalm A.D Cream
Thick yet gentle, this Avène cream suits even the most sensitive skin. It’s a product you can use all year round, even when your eczema isn’t flaring up. It will keep moisture levels up and irritation at bay. Plus, it doesn’t have a strong smell like most other eczema products. The cleansing oil from the same range works to lessen the impact of your shower - remember long hot showers will anger dry skin - and the two work well together.
Dermatique Eczema Recuperating Cream
Formulated by the brand’s founder as an attempt to cure his daughter’s eczema, this really is a tub of heaven. Containing anti-inflammatory blackcurrant seed oil and vitamin rich argan oil, it packed with all the good stuff. It sinks in almost immediately and can be applied as much as is required without making skin feel greasy. Apply to face and body and watch it work its magic.
MooGoo Irritable Skin Balm
This cult Aussie export is full of natural moisturisers like sweet almond oil and olive oil. They explain each ingredient and its job on the website so you can be fully clued up and in control of your skincare. It’s suitable for both face and body, but I’ve found it works best on the body. It smells great and is free from parabens, too. MooGoo also do soaps which are good for a soothing shower.
Aveeno Skin Relief Nourishing Lotion with Shea Butter
I use this product nearly every day and I love how it makes my skin feel. I won’t go anywhere without it. Apply liberally to your body to avoid dry skin that can escalate into eczema. The amount of bottles I get through is alarming, especially in cold winter months but there really is nothing else quite like it - make this your base and then apply harder-hitting balms to the driest areas to keep your skin happy.
Lush Dream Cream
This is one of Lush’s best-selling body lotions, and there’s a reason why. It absorbs into skin without much effort, so it doesn’t leave it feeling greasy but it does leave lasting moisture. Its scent isn’t my favourite, but I’ve just bought another big tub which is definitely saying something!
Main image: Getty. Image credits: courtesy of brands