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Best Lotion for Eczema: Understanding the Different Creams, Ointments and More

Medically reviewed by Sue Kua, MD · Dermatology

Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Oct 12, 2022

    Best Lotion for Eczema: Understanding the Different Creams, Ointments and More

    Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis or skin asthma, is a condition that causes dry, itchy, and inflamed patches to form on the skin’s surface. This inflammation often leads to swelling and irritation which can be a source of discomfort, sometimes severe. Those who suffer from this condition are often in search of the best lotion for eczema. Find out more about eczema treatments and more here.

    Eczema is not contagious, but sometimes, it may run in families. 

    It’s essential to take care of eczema by finding the best lotion for eczema that can help relieve discomfort while also preventing infection and damage to the skin. 

    Persistent eczema can be particularly challenging to treat. To get symptoms under control, individuals may have to try many different treatments until they find one that proves to be effective. Even if they find the best lotion for eczema or the right treatment, it is possible for signs and symptoms to reappear or flare up.

    Best Lotion For Eczema

    What is the best lotion for eczema? A wide variety of treatments are available for eczema, and these can come in the form of lotions, creams or ointments. Lotions contain a small amount of oil compared to creams and ointments. They are also mostly made of water which makes them very light to wear and comfortable to use. Below are some common treatments for eczema.


    Emollients are medical moisturizers for treating eczema. They come in lotion form, but these products are also available as creams, ointments, gels, and sprays. In comparison with cosmetic moisturizers, they are unscented and do not contain anti-aging additives.

    Emollients also come in different formulations. Greasier is generally better, but tends to be uncomfortable. Lighter versions of emollients don’t stain clothes and are generally more comfortable to use.  

    Emollients with a paraffin base can be a fire hazard when they are absorbed into clothing. When bathing, showering, or holding your baby, be careful of emollients as they make the skin slippery. 

    The surfactant sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is used in emollients to mix the oil with the water. Leaving it on for long periods of time can irritate your skin condition. For this reason it’s best to use emollients that don’t contain SLS.

    Topical Corticosteroids 

    In addition to fighting inflammation, corticosteroids can also relieve symptoms associated with eczema and dermatitis. Because corticosteroids suppress immune responses, they can stop inflammation and its symptoms, such as swelling, itchiness, and redness.

    There are various strengths of topical corticosteroids, including some low-potency anti-itch creams that can be purchased over the counter.

    It is not recommended to switch from one topical steroid to another without consulting your healthcare provider. 

    Topical steroids can be an effective treatment for atopic dermatitis or eczema. However, they also have some side effects you should be aware of.

    The following are common side effects of topical steroids:

    • Stretch marks 
    • Perioral dermatitis 
    • Thinning of the skin 
    • Acne or rosacea-like rashes
    • Spider veins 


    Sudden withdrawal of steroids after prolonged use can also have adverse effects like flaking, wrinkling, hair loss and even depression to name a few. Make sure to consult a specialist regarding tapering of steroid dosage and religious follow up should be done to prevent these adverse effects.

    Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors (TCI) 

    Your doctor may prescribe topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs) to treat eczema. TCIs alter the immune system to reduce inflammation. 

    TCIs come in two types:: 

    • Pimecrolimus cream (Elidel) – for mild to moderate eczema
    • Tacrolimus ointment (Protopic) – for moderate to severe eczema 

    TCIs inhibit one of the chemicals that contribute to eczema flare-ups. They can be used to treat flare-ups when they appear as well as prevent them. Doctors commonly prescribe TCIs to children over the age of 2 and adults who do not respond well to topical steroids.

    All areas of the skin of the body may be treated with TCIs, but it is especially useful in delicate areas such as the face, eyelids, genital area, and skin folds.

    Take note, TCIs have a tendency to cause mild stinging or burning in the skin when applied.

    Skin Barrier Creams

    A skin barrier cream contains lipids and ceramides, which are substances that occur naturally in a healthy skin barrier. Lipids form the structural and functional components of all living cells. And ceramides are waxy, oily lipids that form a barrier.

    Skin barrier creams help lock in moisture and keep out skin irritants. By using skin barrier creams, the skin becomes more resistant to eczema symptoms like burning, dryness, and itching.

    Make sure to apply skin barrier creams only to skin affected by eczema. 

    Skin barrier creams are available both over the counter and by prescription. But before using this treatment, make sure to consult a qualified healthcare provider.

    The Best Lotion for Eczema: Key Takeaway

    Eczema can cause discomfort and irritation because of the itchiness and swelling. Those with eczema should take extra care of their skin, and using the best lotion for eczema is one of the ways to do this.

    The best lotion for eczema can come in the form of emollients or skin barrier creams which are topical treatments that moisturize the skin. Dryness can cause irritation which is something you want to avoid if you have eczema. 

    Lotions containing topical steroids and topical calcineurin inhibitors are great for treating eczema, especially if you’re having a flare-up. Steroids and TCIs reduce inflammation and itchiness in the skin. 

    Learn more about Dermatitis here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Sue Kua, MD


    Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Oct 12, 2022

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