Eczema is an inflammation of the skin, so when it’s triggered you need a well formulated moisturizer to soothe the itching, bring down the inflammation and restore the moisture barrier. This is where emollients come in to play.
“Emollients are designed to fill in the spaces between skin cells, softening the skin and making it feel silky soft and smooth. They also improve the skin’s overall appearance. Emollients are often essential fatty acids found in natural oils. They provide some occlusivity and can improve the appearance of dry flaky skin.” Source: Nolan, K. and Marmur, E. (2012), Moisturizers: Reality and the skin benefits.
The frequent and generous use of a well formulated, emollient-laden moisturizer on clean skin will greatly benefit dry flaky skin. One of the best times to use an emollient is immediately after a lukewarm bath, while water is still trapped in the skin. The water gives the skin some much needed extra hydration.
Apply the emollient gently in the direction of the hair growth. Never rub up and down vigorously as this could trigger itching, block hair follicles or create more heat in the skin. Source
The daily and correct use of emollients, even when the eczema has improved, will greatly reduce the occurrence of eczema flare ups and the need for topical corticosteriods like hydrocortisone which are usually used in the treatment of eczema.
Emollients can be found in creams, lotions and ointments. Common emollients found in moisturizers include lanolin, cetyl alcohol, squalene, beeswax, triethlyhexanoin and plant oils like coconut oil, shea butter and cocoa butter.
What are some of your favorite emollients in healing eczema? Let me know in the comments.
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