The following products were sponsored: Eczema Honey, Province Apothecary, St Francis Herb Farm, Naturalia/Flexitol
It would be impossible for me to recount the dozens and dozens of eczema treatments I have used in my lifetime. As a baby, I looked like a crocodile because of my chapped and rough skin. As I grew up the areas in which I had eczema became smaller but more concentrated. One of my worst flare up’s was at 9 years old and lasted nearly 2 years, moving from the palms of my hands to all around my mouth and lips.
My mom brought me to dermatologists who prescribed steroid creams, many of them to no avail. My pediatrician sent us home with all sorts of gloopy, pasty creams that felt like smearing clay on my skin and were impossible to wash off. I often slept with socks or mittens on my hands. Anything in the drug store that had the words “eczema prone skin” or “problem sensitive skin” was immediately acquired. Washes, lotions, serums, “clinical strength”, etc. my mom and I were always on the hunt for an effective eczema cure for my irritated skin.
As a kid in the fourth grade, having cracked, puffy, red, and oozing hands was no picnic. It impeded my ability to participate in sports (holding a golf club with hands like that is painful!), and was just gross to look at. I was embarrassed to show the palms of my hands or to hold hands with other kids. When it suddenly spread to my mouth area, we accelerated our search.
Finally I was prescribed a routine of 3 daily steroid creams that zapped it away quickly. A huge weight was lifted. I continued to use this potent steroid cream regimen for several years, well into my early teens. Then during high school I downgraded to a lesser strength steroid cream to be used only when needed, and I began experimenting again with non-steroid creams to prevent flare-ups from happening as best I could.
As an adult, I still face the occasional flare-up and am just as absorbed in my skincare routine now as I was then. My flare-up’s are less frequent, and they seem to appear on strange areas of my body; my under arms, inner and outer thigh, the top of my hands, below my ear, my eyebrow, my cheeks.
I have put together a list of my top products for managing eczema, based on my experiences. I tested these products on my face, hands, and other areas of my body.
I wanted to include a diverse selection of products with different applications, formulations, and active ingredients. From washes, to oils to balms, and colloidal oatmeal to honey to vitamin E. I also focused on niche brands that you likely won’t find in the local super center. There are plenty of reviews of Spectro, Gold Bond, and all the other mass brands, many of which are also excellent products, on the internet.
All the views expressed in this piece are solely my own, and should not be regarded as medical or dermatological advice. These are my opinions, based on my experiences. Please speak with your doctor or dermatologist before trying out new treatments or changing your treatment plan, and about specific ingredients if you have allergies.
For more information about eczema, check out The Itch Podcast
*In no particular order*
Price: $19 for 15g, $52 for 80g
Available at: Province Apothecary (in store or online), Well.ca
Pros: Best used at night and on the hands, arms, or legs. It’s a very rich, thick, and creamy formula that’s gentle enough even for babies. It dries to a nice powdery, silky finish. I found it good for evening maintenance and did not cause stinging or bleaching of the skin. It’s free from fragrance and is full of supple oils and ingredients such as oatmeal, olive oil, and sunflower oil.
Cons: As the balm is quite thick, it can be too white for daytime use on the face. Avoid getting it on your clothing.
Palmer’s cocoa butter + intense lotion
Available at: Shoppers Drug Mart, Well.ca, Amazon
Pros: It smells incredible because it’s full of cocoa butter! I love to lather it all over my arms, legs, and face at night. If my outfit exposes my legs and arms, I’ll apply it in the daytime too as it leaves a nice, gentle sheen. While not specifically designed for eczema-prone skin, the vitamin E in this cream does wonders, as does the nourishing feeling of the product. The texture is almost like a firmer petroleum jelly, or a balm. Once applied you can immediately feel it moisturizing your dry spots. I find this to be an excellent maintenance lotion/balm.
Cons: It can be oily so I avoid applying it close to the time that I will be cooking or touching my camera. At times it left oily spots on silky clothing and car upholstery. Be sure to rub it in thoroughly. I keep a tub of it by my bedside and at my sink so I can reapply often.
Eczema Honey Co. Nut-Free
Price: $29.50 USD + shipping
Available at: Eczema Honey Co.
Pros: The Eczema Honey left my skin feeling smooth and hydrated. The redness, itchiness, and general irritation caused by eczema was reduced. The feeling of the product is cooling and immediately soothes, especially when you leave it in the fridge. It’s almost watery at first touch, and the beeswax forms a protective barrier on the skin.
Cons: It is best used at night as the formula stays a bit tacky. In the morning, washing it off caused some irritation. You could probably go without washing it off but I needed to do so in order to apply my makeup. For this reason I found it more conducive to use on my hands and body rather than on my face.
Cotton Gloves/Eczema Gloves/Sandwich Gloves
Price: $2 - $30
Available at: commonly found at drug stores, or at Eczema Honey Co.
Pros: Wearing cotton gloves can protect your hands from irritation caused by basic tasks like touching laundry, wiping the counter, washing your hands, etc. They can require you to wash your hands less often, depending on what you are doing. The cotton will absorb excess lotion/cream, and prevents you from touching your face with lotion-y hands during the night. This last point is especially important if you are using a prescription steroid cream. Some brands are durable enough to be tossed in the washing machine and the dryer so you won’t be wasting gloves. I wish these were readily available when I was a kid, as I often went to bed with a cotton sock on my hand! Plastic sandwich gloves work wonders especially while cooking or eating. For example, I wash my hands before eating anything with my fingers, which means I can wash my hands a ton. Sometimes I will just throw on a pair of sandwich gloves instead of washing up, to prevent irritation. Eating cucumber slices with gloves on? Yep, do it all the time.
Cons: They’re only effective if you remember to wear them! The cotton ones can be prohibitive while cooking, as the cotton absorbs moisture from produce, so I wore them selectively in the kitchen. I wear plastic sandwich gloves while chopping and cooking.
Organic Cold Pressed Rose Hip Seed oil, Deciem
Available at: Deciem (in store or online), Well.ca, Hudson’s Bay, Sephora
Pros: Excellent product for reducing redness and inflammation in problem skin. I find this oil useful for preventing flare-up’s, and using on a daily basis. My skin is noticeably more supple and smooth, not to mention my fine lines are way less pronounced, when I use it twice per day. I often apply my moisturizer over top of the oil.
Cons: It takes a little while for the oil to absorb, so depending on when you apply it you may leave the house in the morning with an oily face but it will eventually be absorbed and the sheen will go away.
Naturalia/Flexitol Eczema and Psoriasis Wash, and Lotion
Price: $14.99 - $16.99
Available at: Flexitol and Happy Little Bodies - Well.ca, Amazon. Naturalia - Amazon
Pros: Naturalia, Flexitol, and Happy Little Bodies are one company with branding for different markets. The kids line is Happy Little Bodies, and for adults in Canada we have Flexitol, while in the US and AUS it is Naturalia. Now that we’ve got that all sorted out, I can tell you how much I love the Naturalia Eczema and Psoriasis wash. Made from natural essential oils (including bergamot, my favorite scent), it smells heavenly, lathers gently, and doesn’t irritate my skin. Often I find that soaps can leave my skin feeling stripped of moisture, and I have to lather on body lotion when I get out of the bath or shower. With this wash I don’t get that dry, skin-like-a-raisin feeling. Sometimes I add a few pumps to my running bath water, instead of bubble bath, just to enjoy the scent and the silky feel.
Cons: While I loved the wash, I was less crazy about the lotion as it didn’t seem to set quickly on my skin. It also smelled incredible due to the essential oils, and it was very thin and fluffy, almost like a whipped texture, but I felt it took a while to absorb. This really just comes down to personal preference as I like products with a very oily feel. I did find it effective at reducing itching on my hands.
St. Francis Herb Farm Clear Glow
Price: $19.99 for 50 ml, $31.99 for 100 ml, $64.49 for 250 ml
Available at: Well.ca
Pros: I use this product on my underarms and my thighs. It may look like an oil but it’s actually a tincture! And it kind of smells like root beer, probably because it is made of roots and plants. It dries completely flat and clear, and with no scent. This product is very easy to use; doesn’t get white stuff on your clothes, absorbs really easily and quickly. The product contains nettle, and the medicinal herbs are all organic. It layers well under moisturizer and because it is so light you won’t feel like you have a ton of product on your skin.
Cons: Because I like oily textures, I wished it had a bit more vegetable glycerin, but again this is really just personal preference.