Eczema is associated with asthma and hayfever. In fact, doctors call this the atopic triangle. Although it is like an allergy, your itching is what causes the rash, rather than the allergen itself. Cortico-steroid creams like hydrocortisone can be quite effective for eczema, but you in time may develop an allergy to components of the cream. If you’ve looked around and seen the variety of products available claiming to treat eczema, or atopic dematitis, it is easy to get confused about which to use.
Eczema is associated with asthma and hayfever. In fact, doctors call this the atopic triangle. Although it is like an allergy, your itching is what causes the rash, rather than the allergen itself. Cortico-steroid creams like hydrocortisone can be quite effective for eczema, but you in time may develop an allergy to components of the cream. If youve looked around and seen the variety of products available claiming to treat eczema, or atopic dematitis, its easy to get confused about which to use.
Most dermatologists recommend emollients for eczema treatment. One well known brand is Eucerin, which is formulated especially for eczema and dry skin. An emollient is a substance that softens and soothes the skin. The terms “moisturizer” and “emollient” are sometimes used interchangeably, but the term emollient is generally used to describe single ingredients, whereas “moisturizer” describes finished products.
Emollients have three basic functions.
– Occlusion – providing a layer of oil on the surface of the skin to slow water loss and thus increase moisture content.
– Humectant – increasing the water-holding capacity of the outermost layer of the epidermis.
– Lubrication – increasing slipperyness of the skin.
Eucerin Original creme, which is advertised as being hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and fragrance-free, contains the following: Water, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Ceresin, Lanolin Alcohol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.
- Petrolatum, or petroleum jelly, sold under the brand name Vaseline, is derived from petroleum. It creates a sealed barrier on the skin that limits the skin’s functioning.
Mineral oil is liquid petrolatum, and acts as an emusifier.
Ceresin is a natural substitute for beeswax commonly found in cosmetic creams.
Lanolin Alcohol is a hypoallergenic compound which forms a protective coating on the skin’s surface and helps prevent moisture loss. It smoothes and softens the skin.
Methylchloroisothiazolinone is a preservative with antibacterial and antifungal effects. It was first used in cosmetics in the 1970s. In high concentrations it can cause chemical burns and it is a skin and membrane irritant and so it was largely removed from most cosmetic products except for those with only short duration skin contact.
Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) is a potent biocide and preservative used in shampoos and body care products. Though long considered safe for use in cosmetics, two recent in vitro studies have shown that MIT is neurotoxic, causing damage to rat brain cells in tissue culture. (Cosmetic Ingredient Review. Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone. J. American Col. Toxicol. 11(1):75-128, 1992 , A. Schnuch, J. Geier, W. Utur, P. J. Frosch: “Patch testing with preservatives, antimicrobials and industrial biocides. Results from a multicentre study”, British Journal of Dermatology, 137(3), 467-476 (1998).)
Emollients like Eucerin, for eczema, should be applied at least twice each day, lightly coating all over the body. Use downward strokes in the direction of hair growth; this lessens blocked hair follicles. Eucerin lotion and cleansing bars instead of soap do a terrific job in your bath and shower routines. Avoid using soap and perfumed cleansers, like shower gel or bubble bath, as these will have a disastrous effect on eczema. Some other good soap substitutes are Cetaphil, Emulave and Neutrogena.
While washing dishes, or anytime else where your hands are submerged in soapy water, you should wear latex gloves.
Aquaphor is another product which does a good job on extra dry skin. Aquaphor is an ointment containing 41% petroleum jelly. It can be quite messy, but is invaluable. Aquaphor is made by the company that makes Eucerin, and they recommend Aquaphor for more severe cases of eczema since it is greasier than Eucerin.