If you have eczema, you know how difficult it can be to find products that won’t irritate your skin. Sometimes, knowing what to avoid can be as helpful as product recommendations.
Beware of scent
Any product that contains fragrance is liable to trigger your eczema. Synthetic fragrances are particularly problematic, but natural or organic products that contain scent may also aggravate your skin.
Look for products that are labeled “fragrance-free” and be wary of those that are “unscented.” Unscented products may have fragrance ingredients to neutralize the smell of other ingredients.
Be cautious of preservatives
It’s good to know that the products you buy aren’t likely to have bacteria growing in them, but if the ingredients that prevent the bacteria cause inflammation on your sensitive skin, that isn’t good.
Ingredients like methylparaben and butylparaben are common preservatives in cosmetics and other products -- and they are not good for eczema. If possible, seek out products with more natural preservatives, like neem oil or grapefruit seed extract, which tend to be less irritating.
Note products that contain certain acids
Some products that are marketed as anti-aging creams, gels, masks, or serums contain what you might think of as “sloughing agents.” They cause some of your skin to dry out and peel away. The idea is that once your skin has healed, it will be fresh and new.
But, for people with eczema, who already have dry skin, these products make things worse. Even those that are advertised as ones that will not make your skin dry out and flake away can be bad for eczema prone skin.
Glycolic acid and salicylic acid are both likely to irritate your skin. You may also want to avoid anything containing alpha hydroxy acids and retinols.
Watch for foods that seem to be associated with eczema
Many people with eczema have food allergies. As many as one third of children with eczema also have food allergies, so experts know there is a possible association. The relationship between the two conditions is complex, and not fully understood.
The foods that are most often linked include:
- Tree nuts
Eggs are the most strongly associated, so if you are experiencing more outbreaks than usual or you can’t figure out what is triggering your rashes, you may want avoid eggs and see if that helps.
Washing—anything—can be problematic
Whether you are washing your hair, laundry, hands, or dishes, avoid soaps and detergents that contain fragrances or dyes. As with products designed for cosmetic use, choose soaps and detergents that are labeled fragrance-free rather than unscented.
Rinsing is especially important to help keep your skin from drying out. You may find running the rinse cycle on your washer twice is helpful.
Choose clothing carefully
Any scratchy material, such as wool, is going to be uncomfortable. Synthetic materials like nylon can also irritate your skin. Most of the time, cotton is going to be your best bet.
If you are struggling to find products that you can use comfortably and safely, you may want to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bushmore. He is happy to offer advice or suggestions that can help you avoid uncomfortable eczema flare-ups.