What is eczema and how do I get it?
Is your skin red and blotchy? Do those patches drive you mad with itchiness? Sounds like you have eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. A particularly bad attack is called a "flare".
Sadly, it's probably not anything you did to get it. While the causes of eczema are not completely clear, most people with eczema also suffer from allergies, so there is probably a genetic component to why you drew the short straw.
But you can try and avoid triggers - such as perfumes, chlorine and grass - and try not to dry out the skin with soaps.
Baby eczema can be caused by food allergies but seek medical advice before eliminating any food groups.
Why is eczema such a pain?
"In people with eczema the skin does not retain moisture very well, which causes it to dry out easily. This makes the skin more open to allergens and irritants," says the ASCIA website.
"These can trigger the skin to release chemicals that make the skin itchy. Scratching itchy skin causes more chemicals to be released, making the skin feel itchier. This scratch-and-itch cycle can cause discomfort, disrupt sleep and affect quality of life," the website continues.
So how do you stop the annoying eczema cycle?
Creams and eczema
If you have a flare or severe eczema, it's probably best to seek the advice of a doctor as you may need a steroid cream and/or antibiotics.
But for non-severe outbreaks, keeping the irritated areas hydrated helps break the eczema "scratch and itch" cycle. That's where non-prescription products come in, to moisturise the skin. Go for a cream, ointment or lotion that's soothing and fragrance-free and avoids irritants like acids or botanicals.
Here is a baker's dozen of our favourite eczema products:
13. Eczema Honey Foaming Hand Soap
Using ordinary soap for eczema sufferers can be a recipe for disaster as many soaps actually dry out the skin and the fragrances they use can also aggravate the condition. This product, however - made with antibacterial honey powder, aloe vera to boost hydration and nourishing vitamin E oil - instead promises to soothe and moisturise hands.
"The little bee with the heart is awesome." - monsterblockmedia
12. CeraVe Itch Relief Moisturizing Lotion
Cost: $46.95 for 230ml
Although other eczema creams are great for providing a solution for dry and damaged skin, many forget a key part of the skin condition which is the infuriating rash that begs you to keep itching it. CeraVe’s Moisturizing Lotion for Itch Relief has been labelled by The Strategist as “the only thing that’s ever worked” to control the eczema itch. The clinically tested lotion has been found to extinguish that desire to scratch in under two minutes and keep it that way for up to eight hours.
"I'm a huge fan of CeraVe products and this lotion was no different. I have eczema on my hands and eyelids and this is a lifesaver when it flares up. It's gentle enough to use on my face and hands without any issue and it alleviates and itchiness quickly." - Andree D.
11. E45 cream
It's not the prettiest packaged product but E45 has the protective goods and is gentle enough to use on baby eczema from the age of one month. The product works as a barrier to stop moisture getting out and irritants getting in to the skin. As well as having a very informative website on eczema, E45 has a wide selection of items in its range, including cleansing products that won't dry out the skin: try their shower cream.
"The best cream by far for my husband's skin condition. He has mild psoriasis and eczema, and uses this daily and sees great improvement in skin health."
10. SheaMoisture African Black Soap
Made of all natural and organic ingredients including plantain peel, tamarind extract and palm ash, SheaMoisture’s African Black Soap has helped with many skin problems including not only eczema but oily skin and psoriasis as well. It’s unique blend ensures that it is rich in the important vitamins A and E to help relieve irritation and heal and soften the skin. However some buyers report that for them it caused acne breakouts.
"The best soap ever. It really helped with my eczema and with blotches on my face. I recommend this soap to all my family and friends." - Veruneeka
9. Dove DermaSeries Fragrance-Free Body Lotion
For super soft and supple skin, check out Dove’s new DermaSeries line, and in particular this fragrance-free product. Perfect for your whole body, this moisturiser sinks into the skin instantly, without any of that sticky feeling after application. The texture is light and non-greasy despite working as well as a thicker-type moisturiser. If that’s not enough to convince you, People magazine have also named it one of the best body moisturisers under $20. The only con? One user reported that although it greatly benefits the skin while on, once washed off it has no lasting effect.
“I like to keep my Dove DermaSeries Body Lotion right by my bed as a visual reminder that my skin needs TLC, just like everything else.” - @annakhaddock
8. CeraVe Healing Ointment
Cost: $36.85 for 144g
Great for extra dry lips and irritated skin, CeraVe’s Healing Ointment will soothe redness and slow down the itchy feeling that comes with having eczema. It has a similar texture and consistency to Vaseline but is not as greasy and fully absorbs into your skin. However, some users dislike the packaging as they feel that the tube is hard to squeeze and the tub is unsanitary.
"I was having some issues with eczema on my face, a few dry patches. I had been eyeing [this product] for some time now, I just dodged it because of the price. But I buckled down and purchased this yesterday, I am very pleased, no more dry patches on my face! This really works, if you have dry skin try this you wont regret it!" - Jennifer P.
7. Vaseline Intensive Care Essential Healing Body Lotion
This lotion is made up of pure oat extract and Vaseline Jelly to fully absorb into the skin and replace lost moisture. In doing so, it prevents further damage from environmental factors and leaves the skin feeling relieved from the effects of eczema. This article's author can vouch that it works miracles on extremely dehydrated skin and is bargain-priced to boot. It also comes in Aloe Vera and Cocoa Radiant varieties.
"My dehydrated skin almost literally drinks this up, leaving smooth and soft skin. It is so cheap for the results. I highly recommend" - Nicoler112
6. L’Occitane Pure Shea Butter
Cost: $15 for 10ml, $53 150mL
At the splurge end of the budget is L’Occitane’s Organic Shea Butter. It may not be as cheap as the others on the list but is worth every cent. Made up of 100 per cent pure shea butter, the formula contains Vitamin A which is essential for clearing up skin conditions such as eczema, blemishes, wrinkles and dermatitis. Because of the all-natural remedy, each tin excludes any nasty chemicals or fragrances that can irritate your skin. It can be used to treat any area of the body including under eyes, cuticles, lips or even hair.
"The tin is so pretty to look at, it's not cheap but it lasts forever. . My fiancé gets eczema over large areas of skin, and this is great for preventing painful cracking. I love that it is natural and pure, especially when dealing with eczema, the more ingredients there are in the list, the more likely it will cause a reaction." - Catn2kittens
5. Aveeno Dermexa Moisturising Cream
For intense moisture that is clinically proven to alleviate eczema, try this convenient little product, that also comes in a formula for baby eczema. Made up of colloidal oatmeal plus ceramides, the cream delivers long-lasting results for reduced redness, itching and scaling. By also containing the hydrating lipid called ceramine, this moisturiser works to permanently restore the protective barrier of the skin.
"I have been an eczema sufferer since birth and it has only worsened into my 20s. I was dubious when my neighbour recommended this cream, as I have tried every moisturiser, oil, diet and trigger avoidance in the books. But she was right, this cream is nothing short of a miracle. Within 24hrs of using it, the major flare I was experiencing had almost completely disappeared and my skin felt smoother than ever before." - Dakota
4. Jojoba Everywhere Balm
Pharmacist formulated and totally natural, the Jojoba Everywhere Balm is specifically designed for those with eczema. It is a powerful moisturizing and massage balm which can safely be used all over the body. The jojoba and shea absorb straight into the skin giving instant hydration without the oiliness. It's also highly recommended for dry lips. QED also make a face cream perfect for those with eczema, their Sensitive Solid Day Cream.
"I have tried many things to lessen the rawness, irritation, itchiness and unsightly rash without much success. My hands not only feel better but are starting to look a lot better. This is a great balm for winter and the dryness that seems to creep into our skin." – Megan D
3. COSRX Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream
Many eczema suffers LOVE this intensive cream for its ability to completely replenish the skin’s moisture barrier and shield it from further dehydration. Despite having quite a thick consistency, it doesn’t feel too heavy on your face and can be worn under makeup. It also won’t cause breakouts or clog pores. Writers from The Cut, The Strategist and Reviewed who are all eczema sufferers swear by this product.
"My skin is sensitive, acne prone, and dehydrated. I have tried so many high end brands of moisturizers and hydrating serums, and nothing keeps my dry, flaky skin hydrated like this does." - Melissa M.
2. QV Flare Up cream
The whole QV range is a favourite of those who suffer from skin conditions - and with good reason. The Australian company who manufacture it were on a mission for the dermatology department at Melbourne's Queen Victoria hospital, hence the range's name: QV. This particular product, QV Flare Up Cream, which is specifically designed to help during times of eczema flare, consistently gets 5-star ratings.
"My son has eczema that flares up occasionally. I've found nothing works as well as using QV Bath oil followed by QV Flare Up Cream. Doesn't sting like some other treatments. Definitely worth a try". - Louise
And ... drum roll, please ... Here is our best buy:
1. MooGoo Skin Milk Udder Cream
Cost: $11.90 for 120g
Created to treat his mother’s psoriasis, MooGoo founder Craig Jones developed the Skin Milk Udder Cream after noticing that she had been using a thick paste intended for cows to try and clear up her condition. By lightening the formula and making it less greasy, he came up with a winner, which not only relieved his mother’s condition but is now bought every two minutes by fans from around the world. Made from a milk protein, the formula ensures that the skin is kept supple and elastic. The concoction is also used by hospitals in Australia to help with the side effect of dry and damaged skin caused by radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
"Been using hydrocortisone steroids to treat my son's eczema for a very long time but it would always come back when you take the recommended breaks, so it was just a never ending cycle. Udder Cream has completely cleared up his eczema and helps keep it away. Can't recommend this highly enough for eczema sufferers." - Bernie
Still want more? Customers rave about Lush Dream Cream