If you’re constantly dealing with red, itchy, dry patches of eczema, you're probably familiar with the struggle to find the best eczema creams out there. Chances are, by now, you've tried seemingly every lotion and over-the-counter treatment on the market to help, and you've learned that it's incredibly tough to find a product that moisturizes without irritating your poor skin further. Eczema creams are not one-size-fits-all, and it is way too easy to spend a ton of money on products that do nothing to make your skin any less red or itchy. So how can you be sure you’re using the right one for you?
What should you look for in an eczema cream?
Eczema is a condition in which the skin barrier is not able to maintain the necessary moisture to provide protection from allergens and environmental stressors. “People with eczema tend to have dry, irritated, inflamed skin,” says Shari Lipner, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of clinical dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Choosing the right moisturizer can help in preventing eczema flares and treating the eczema.”
The best eczema creams and lotions are “thicker moisturizers,” Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D., double board-certified dermatologist and founder of Mudgil Dermatology, tells Honayst.
It’s especially important to look for a product that contains humectant ingredients (like hyaluronic acid and glycerin) as well as moisturizing and skin-protecting ingredients (like ceramides, petrolatum, and colloidal oatmeal). Humectants help add additional hydration, while ceramides and occlusive ingredients reinforce the skin barrier, ultimately helping to protect you from irritants that might trigger an eczema flare. Keep an eye out for products with a high oil-content-to-water-content ratio as well, recommends Dr. Lipner.
Of course, there are ingredients you’ll want to avoid too, Dendy Engelman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, tells Honayst. Ingredients to watch out for include fragrances, exfoliating acids (like glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids), and retinol, she says: “These can further irritate the skin by drying them out.”
So what are the absolute best eczema creams to hydrate, strengthen, and protect against flare-ups? We asked dermatologists to tell us what moisturizers they commonly recommend to their eczema patients. Here’s what they suggest.
Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream with Oatmeal
Aveeno's special cream for eczema is formulated with ceramides, which Dr. Y. Claire Chang, board-certified dermatologist at UnionDerm, says repair and protect skin. “Its colloidal oatmeal soothes dry, irritated, and eczema-prome skin,” she adds.
Baby Dove Fragrance-Free Lotion (Pack of 3)
Board-certified dermatologist Heather Woolery-Lloyd, M.D., recommends this Baby Dove lotion for dry, sensitive skin. Babies have especially sensitive skin, and so do grown-ups with eczema. “I love that this lotion is fragrance-free and has an excellent hydrating formula,” she says and notes that it also received the Seal of Acceptance by the National Eczema Association, which recognizes products that are suitable for the care of eczema-prone skin.
Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion
This cream contains petrolatum, a longstanding expert-favored ingredient for protecting the skin barrier. “Its light lotion formula is easy to spread across large surface areas and will not leave the skin feeling heavy or greasy,” Joshua Zeichner, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Honayst.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
This cream includes both of Dr. Mudgil’s favorite eczema ingredients—hyaluronic acid and ceramides—which are very hydrating, he says. “It’s super mild and great for all skin types, even those with eczema.” An added bonus? The cost-effective large container will last you a long time.
The Honest Company Soothing Therapy Eczema Cream
The Honest Company's Eczema Cream contains colloidal oatmeal, which Dr. Papri Sarkar, a board-certified dermatologist based in Boston, calls a “superstar ingredient." It's also packed with emollients like coconut oil and shea butter, plus glycerin for sealing in moisture. “This one works best when layered onto damp skin, so don't dry off completely when you get out of the shower," says Sarkar.
Cleure Body Lotion
“This hypoallergenic, fragrance-free lotion can be used even on the most sensitive-skinned individuals,” Dr. Zeichner tells Honayst. It's rich in shea butter, a known emollient that he says helps to “soften rough cells in the outer skin layer and improve hydration.”
La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+ Lotion
La Roche-Posay's eczema cream is a great moisturizer in the brand’s arsenal, but it isn't the only one. In addition to the company’s much-loved thermal spring water, this lotion “contains postbiotic ingredients to support and improve the health of your microbiome, along with moisturizers and hydrators,” Ted Lain, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and chief medical officer at Sanova Dermatology, tells Honayst.
Cetaphil Baby Eczema Calming Lotion
If you’re really prone to irritation, Dr. Engelman suggests using gentle, fragrance-free formulas like Cetaphil’s lotion, which is gentle enough even for babies and received a seal of approval from the National Eczema Association. “The more pliable and moisturized skin is, the less it will be prone to crack and itch,” she says.
Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream
Cetaphil makes another product great for eczema-prone skin that's a heavier cream, in case lotion doesn't do it for you. While still fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, Dr. Chang says it provides long-lasting hydration because of its moisturizing ingredients: glycerin, sunflower seed oil, and petrolatum, as well as antioxidant vitamin E. It's affordable, so you can keep several tubes (or tubs) around the house, reapplying generously when necessary without worrying you'll run out.
Vaseline Healing Jelly
Sometimes simpler is just better. “Vaseline is the best for the worst areas, especially after showers and bathing,” Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, M.D., a dermatologist at Cass Regional Medical Center, tells Honayst. “It is inexpensive, it seals moisture into the skin the best, it almost never causes allergies, and it does not cause acne.”
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
Aquaphor is a favorite of Nada Elbuluk, M.D., director of the Skin of Color Center and Pigmentary Program at USC, for her patients with eczema and dry skin. It isn't quite a lotion or a cream—more of a clear jelly, like Vaseline. But while Vaseline is 100% petrolatum, Aquaphor contains additional hydrators like mineral oil and glycerin, which Dr. Elbuluk says help repair the skin barrier even more so than what you might find in a lotion.
Kamedis Eczema Therapy Cream
Kamedis’s cream is formulated without parabens, fragrances, or dyes, all of which can be irritants on sensitive skin. Additionally, “this cream contains ceramides to help repair the outer skin layer,” Dr. Zeichner says.