We had an eczema baby. What started as cradle cap on the scalp and a few dry, itchy patches quickly progressed to very bad eczema all over his body and face. The first doctors gave us steroid creams and told us to use moisturisers. The dermatologist agreed but gave us steroid ointments rather than creams, and keep up the moisturisers. It wasn’t until we saw our fabulous allergist that we actually got the best advice about managing eczema. This included using the steroids and frequent moisturising as recommended, and adding wet wrapping techniques. But it was his recommendation of the best eczema moisturiser that helped us enormously. And we still use it every day over a decade later.
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Why moisturise with eczema?
If you have eczema, you know how uncomfortable it is. Treatments for eczema aim to heal the skin barrier and stop or reduce flare-ups. When the skin is itchy and dry, it is prone to cracking and infection. Regular moisturising can not only sooth itching, but also help stop the skin from becoming dry and cracked.
One of the most important parts of managing eczema is using a moisturiser straight after a (not too hot) bath or shower to “lock in” the moisture. But using it more often is better. Several times a day if possible.
Moisturisers we tried first
At the start of our eczema journey, we tried all sorts of things that were suggested to us. Someone suggested sorbolene, which was a disaster as the alcohol and other ingredients really hurt when applied to broken skin.
Every second person seemed to have a recommendation for their idea of the best eczema moisturiser. Online searches suggested all sorts of miracle creams.
Lots of creams/lotions marketed as good for eczema have food ingredients. Oats, honey, cow or goat’s milk. It is not a great idea to rub these on dry, broken eczema skin, as it can cause you to become sensitised to foods through the broken skin barrier. Or you may already have food allergies and need to avoid certain food ingredients anyway. We talked about this in our post on 10 personal care products to check for food allergens.
Our eczema baby turned out to have multiple food allergies. So we were not going to use a cream or ointment made with milk protein when he has a severe milk protein allergy.
Which moisturisers were better?
QV is often a recommended choice by pharmacists. We tried QV eczema lotion, but again found that some of the ingredients did cause some discomfort when applied to our little one’s broken skin. It certainly was better than a lot of other products, but it wasn’t for us. I noticed that QV also sell a Sting-Free Ointment now, however we haven’t tried it. We do like the QV bath oil* (Amazon link) and used this in the bath for many years.
We used Dermeze Ointment for quite some time. This was really effective and didn’t cause any discomfort. Dermeze ointment is made with just white soft paraffin and liquid paraffin with no added ingredients to irritate the skin. The one thing that I personally didn’t like about Dermeze was that it was extremely greasy. I always ended up with greasy stains on my clothes after applying it on my son’s legs. Another product by Dermeze that we do still use every day is Dermeze soap free wash* (Amazon link). This is a great soap alternative that doesn’t exacerbate hand eczema (and also makes bubbles in the bath). This is made by an Australian company so many not be available elsewhere.
The best eczema moisturiser
As I said at the start of this post, our son’s allergist put us on to the best eczema moisturiser so far – Epaderm ointment
This emollient is made with 3 ingredients (soft paraffin, liquid paraffin and an emulsifying wax). It is free from fragrances and colours and doesn’t contain sodium laureth sulfate.
It also has multiple uses. You can use it:
- in the bath;
- as a skin cleanser; or
- directly on the skin as a moisturiser.
We use it straight after the bath to moisturise all over. Either with or without steroid creams/ointments as required for bad patches of eczema. Epaderm can be used as part of wrapping for eczema treatment too. It is excellent for dry skin. And the addition of the wax means that it isn’t as greasy (and doesn’t stain clothes or bedding).
It has come in very handy as a cleanser (like the time someone decided to paint his face with mulberry juice).
In summer you can store the Epaderm tub in the fridge, making it lovely and cool and soothing when applied.
We have a little 125g size tub* for travelling or staying at friends. At home we use the 500g tubs, but is also available in 1kg size. When using a big tub, it is a good idea to use a clean scoop or spatula to take as much ointment as you need from the tub before applying. This is so that you don’t transfer any bacteria back into the tub with your fingers.
If you are searching for a simple and effective eczema ointment to use every day, give Epaderm a try. Let us know what you think in the comments.
Customising your eczema moisturiser
I had an interesting discussion with our allergy nurse recently about moisturisers. Emollients like Epaderm are quite thick. She suggested that it is quite ok to make your own combination moisturiser by mixing a thinner lotion in with the thicker Epaderm to make a blend that you prefer the feel of. We haven’t needed to try this yet, but it could be a good option if you find Epaderm a bit too thick or heavy.
After all, the best eczema moisturiser is of course one that you are happy to use as much and as often as you should to keep your skin hydrated and your eczema under control.
Eczema information and support
If you are caring for a baby with eczema, have a look at our post How to help your itchy baby with eczema stop scratching. We’ve included lots of tips for caring for your baby’s skin and avoiding all sorts of common eczema triggers.
For more support with eczema management, make sure you speak to your doctor or specialist. Other really helpful resources to have a look at are:
- Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia’s Atopic Eczema Management fact sheet; and
- the Eczema Association Australia website.
If you or someone you care for has eczema, you might also be interested in our post – Choosing the best sunscreen for sensitive skin, eczema or allergies