When you have a chronic condition like eczema, you have to be extra careful about what you put on your skin. Finding the right products requires research, reading reviews, and testing products on your skin to make sure they don’t cause a reaction or cause further damage to your skin barrier. Many people with eczema rely on dermatologists for recommendations.
Ingredients to Avoid if you Have Eczema
Many skin-care products on the market contain common allergens that can result in adverse reactions for people with eczema. Some are aware of those allergens and simply steer clear of them, but others could definitely use a primer. For this reason, we went ahead and compiled a handy — and hopefully helpful — list of common ingredients to avoid in skin care if you have eczema. ]t.
If you’re planning to try out a new product, talk to your doctor before giving it a go, and patch test on your wrist before applying it all over your body.
Synthetic Fragrances and Dyes
Any credible dermatologist or skin-care expert in the game will stress the importance of avoiding skin-care products that feature synthetic fragrances and dyes, as both can be a major trigger for eczema flare-ups. A good rule of thumb? If it smells anything like a Bath & Body Works candle, do not put it on your skin. Be sure to read product labels carefully in order to identify any under-the-radar fragrances you could be allergic to. Here are key ingredients to look out for:
Cinnamic Alcohol and Cinnamic Aldehyde
Cinnamic alcohol and cinnamic aldehyde are common causes of allergic contact dermatitis and are likely to cause reactions to those with eczema.
Found in perfumes, eugenol is recognized by The Contact Dermatitis Institute as an allergen for those with eczema.
Another fragrance allergen, isoeugenol is used in flavorings, essential oils, and in medicine.
With its rose-like odor, geraniol is also commonly used in perfumes and flavorings. It also happens to be used in plant-based mosquito repellents. Those with eczema should be repelled from geraniol because it can cause allergic contact dermatitis.
Hydroxycitronellal is found in multiple lotions, perfumes, and soaps. This fragrance is a common allergen that can aggravate eczema.
Oakmoss Absolute / Evernia Prunastri
Oakmoss absolute, which also goes by its Latin name Evernia prunastri, is found in massage oils, lotions, soaps, body fragrances, perfume oils, aromatherapy products, bath oils, and laundry detergents. It is often an allergen for people with eczema.
Another no-no ingredient for eczema: alcohol. Ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and alcohol denat are all ultra-drying for the skin.
Cocamidopropyl betaine is a surfactant derived from coconut oil that's found in foaming products like soap, shampoo, and facial cleansers. It can trigger contact dermatitis.
Lanolin is present in many skincare products because it’s an effective emollient. But because it’s derived from sheep’s wool, many people with eczema are actually allergic to it.
Retinoids are a class of medicines related to vitamin A. They play an important role in both acne and anti-aging, but they can be irritating to eczema-prone skin. If you want to use a retinoid, talk to your doctor and consider using a lower potency, which may have fewer side effects.
Ingredients to Monitor:
Aside from the ingredients listed above, there are other offenders that those with eczema should be aware of, as they’ve been known to cause negative reactions in those with sensitive, easily irritated skin types.
Essential oils can be too potent and aren’t suitable for using directly on the skin, especially if they’re undiluted or you’re unfamiliar with the quality of the brand.
Benzalkonium chloride is an antibacterial agent found in a variety of eye-care products,such as contact solutions and artificial tears as well as no-rinse hand cleansers. It can cause irritant contact dermatitis or allergic contact dermatitis, especially in those with eczema-prone skin.
Urea can be irritating for those with eczema and can contribute to damaging the acid mantle of the skin. While it may be expertly formulated for those with eczema, it is probably best avoided outside of special situations.
Avoid Eczema Triggers with Gladskin
When it comes to shopping for skin care as someone with eczema, it’s best to educate yourself on the ingredients you should avoid before hitting the store so that you can feel confident making a purchase. It’s also important to remember that the fewer ingredients there are, the less likely it is that the product will spur a reaction. And, of course, when in doubt, it can never hurt to consult your dermatologist first.