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Eczema is estimated to affect more than 30 million Americans — that’s more than 10% of the population! And yet, if you have eczema, finding products that won’t upset your skin can be challenging. When you’re prone to sensitive skin and eczema, it’s critical to stay clear of certain harsh ingredients.
But as we’ve written about before, marketers are very creative when labeling products “great for sensitive skin,” “fragrance-free” or “dermatologist-recommended.” In reality, many of these products still contain fragrances and other ingredients known to irritate sensitive skin and cause a reaction! That’s why it’s helpful with credible third-party advice, such as the National Eczema Association, which awards products suitable for eczema and sensitive skin.
In this article, we’ll go through the following:
- What is eczema?
- The most common symptoms for all types of eczema
- Common irritants
- Three steps for caring for eczema
- Top 5 best creams for eczema approved by the National Eczema Association
What is eczema?
Eczema damages the skin barrier function (the “glue” of your skin), causing itching, dryness, scaliness, and redness — and generally making your skin more sensitive and prone to irritation and dryness. Eczema is not contagious, and while the exact cause of eczema is unknown, research suggests that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contributes to eczema development.
Eczema can appear both on your face and body. And while Atopic Dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, there are actually seven different kinds of eczema (and it’s possible to suffer from more than one condition at a time):
- Atopic dermatitis
- Contact dermatitis
- Dyshidrotic eczema
- Nummular eczema
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Stasis dermatitis
The common symptoms for all types of eczema are:
- Dry and sensitive skin
- Rough and scaly skin
- Redness and itchiness
- A burning sensation
Although eczema cannot be cured — the good news is that it can be managed. Typically, there are periods when symptoms improve – and times of the year when they worsen. While each type of eczema has different triggers and treatment requirements, the key to treating eczema is to use gentle skincare. This includes avoiding perfume, botanical essence, and natural oils, as well as keeping skin moisturized.
- Metals (especially nickel)
- Cigarette smoke
- Soaps and household cleansers
- Certain fabrics like wool and polyester
- Antibacterial ointments like neomycin and bacitracin formaldehyde, which is found in household disinfectants, some medicines and medical products, glues, and adhesives
- Isothiazolinone, an antibacterial that is found in personal care products like baby wipes
- Cocamidopropyl betaine, which is used to thicken shampoos and lotions
- Paraphenylenediamine, which is used in leather dyes and temporary tattoos, among other products
Three steps to caring for eczema
- Avoid fragrance: Skip products with perfume as they can further irritate the skin and trigger flare-ups.
- Drop the steamy showers: Keep the temperature down while showering and use lukewarm water.
- Moisturize: Keep your skin hydrated to prevent it from drying out. Thicker creams are preferable to thinner lotions because they create a better barrier for the skin. While it’s ideal for applying moisturizers post-shower (to seal in the moisture) — moisturizing should not be limited to bath time. Apply a thick moisturizer whenever your skin begins to itch or feels dry.
Note: serious cases of eczema may require prescription treatments.
Luckily, there are plenty of over-the-counter options that can help eczema-prone skin. We have found the 5 best fragrance-free moisturizing creams and have been awarded the Seal of Acceptance by the National Eczema Association. Their criteria include a list of ingredients and contents that should be avoided because they contain ingredients known to induce eczema and irritate sensitive skin.
Top 5 Best Eczemas Creams in 2023 Approved by the National Eczema Association
We’ve tested a host of moisturizers and have chosen the very best 5 moisturizers that will moisturize and calm eczema-prone and sensitive skin. All of them are free of fragrance, masking fragrance, and botanical extracts, and they all have the seal of approval from the National Eczema Association. And all of them get our top 5-star rating!
Ahead are our top 5 best eczema creams in 2023:
CeraVe’s Healing Ointment is formulated without fragrances, dyes, and lanolin. It’s petrolatum-based with ceramides 1, 3, and 6-II (to protect the skin’s natural barrier) and excellent for repairing dry and cracked skin. We particularly like it for those extra-dry patches on both face and body. It also works wonders on dry, cracked hands.
CeraVe’s fragrance-free moisturizing cream contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which are great for hydrating and soothing dry, cracked, and itchy skin. It’s a rich, creamy, but non-greasy moisturizer that’s not only excellent for treating sensitive, eczema-prone skin but also great for “normal” winter-dry skin during the colder months. Discover why CeraVe’s Moisturizing cream has over 75,000 reviews and 5 stars on Amazon.
An all-time favorite for people with very sensitive skin and super-dehydrated skin. Vanicream’s moisturizer is free of everything that will irritate your skin (no fragrance, masking fragrance, botanical extracts, parabens, or lanolin), meaning there are no frills to it which makes it great for sensitive skin and eczema sufferers. While the consistency is very rich, the cream absorbs well. It’s no wonder that this cult favorite has over 27,000 glowing reviews on Amazon.
Aveeno’s Eczema Therapy cream is formulated with ceramide and colloidal oatmeal, making it suitable for repairing and maintaining skin hydration while soothing itchiness. It works wonders for relieving and restoring irritated patches of dry skin without feeling greasy on the skin. It’s free of fragrance, parabens, and dyes and is gentle enough for daily use. It also comes in a version for babies that also comes in a 1oz travel (sample) size.
CeraVe’s Itch Relief Moisturizing Cream is not only fragrance-free but also without steroids and sulfates. The moisturizing cream is rich and great for dry, itchy skin. It is formulated with essential ceramides to restore and repair the skin. The Pramoxine Hydrochloride 1% helps soothe and relieve itchiness and irritation. Rashes, scrapes, insect bites, and minor burns can also be treated with it. It’s also worth noting that it has racked up over 8,000 glowing Amazon reviews.
Reviews of more eczema-friendly and fragrance-free products
We continuously review the best eczema-friendly and fragrance-free products to help you live a life free of fragrance and other unnecessary content. See more relevant reviews below, and let us know if there’s something you can’t find!