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Creams That Help Eczema

Because eczema is a skin disease, creams are the ideal medications to use in its treatment. Creams directly act on the skin and can be easily included in daily skincare regimens. However, not all creams are beneficial for eczema patients. The right cream for eczema should help moisturize the skin as well as reduce itching, inflammation and infections. Will a simple moisturizer serve you or do you need a prescription hydrocortisone cream? Are there eczema creams made from natural ingredients? What eczema creams are good for your sensitive skin? Read on to find out.
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1. Eucerin

Eucerin is a family of topical products manufactured by Beiersdorf with urea as active ingredient.

Eucerin products are commonly recommended for treating skin diseases especially seborrhea, acne and atopic eczema. The products in the Eucerin line include body cream, face cream, hand cream and foot cream.

There are 2 concentrations of urea supplied in Eucerin cream. These are the normal 5% formula and the intensive treatment formulations that contain 10% urea.

Urea is a natural compound found in different body fluids. It is also found in the skin where it acts as a natural moisturizer. Basically, urea helps the skin absorb and lock in more moisture. Therefore, it prevents the skin from drying out.

Dry skin is the result of water loss from the outer layer of the skin known as the stratum corneum.

When this layer becomes dehydrated, it contracts and loses its flexibility. These changes cause the skin layer to crack and become scaly. When the outer layer dries up, water is continuously lost from the lower layers of the skin through evaporation.

The dehydration of the stratum corneum is directly responsible for the dry, scaly skin and itching experienced by eczema patients.

Because the urea content of the typical dry skin is reduced by half, applying a urea-containing cream such as Eucerin can help replenish the skin with this natural moisturizer. This promotes moisture retention in the skin and also helps lubricate the surface of the skin.

Therefore, urea improves kin healthy by blocking the evaporation of the water from the skin.

Eucerin creams can be safely applied on the skin for as long as needed. However, it is recommended that the creams should be applied twice daily: once in the morning and once at bedtime.

You can apply Eucerin generously on the skin but it should be rubbed in gently and quickly. Avoid rubbing it in deeply to avoid irritating the skin because urea causes a stinging sensation.

People with sensitive skin should not use the 10% urea formulation of Eucerin. Eucerin creams must not be applied on broken, bleeding or ulcerating skin.

2. Hydrocortisone Creams

Hydrocortisone creams and ointments are the most common topical products prescribed for eczema patients.

There are non-prescription hydrocortisone creams. The non-prescription topical products usually contain 0.05% - 2.5% hydrocortisone. Products containing higher concentrations of hydrocortisone are not sold without prescriptions. There are lot of generic and branded hydrocortisone creams in the market.

Hydrocortisone is used in the treatment of eczema because of its immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory effects.

Once absorbed through the skin, hydrocortisone can act on the parts of the immune system responsible for release pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Besides this immune suppression, hydrocortisone can reduce inflammation in the skin by stabilizing cell membranes and, therefore, prevent tissue damage. Such protection can help keep the immune system from releasing pro-inflammatory cytokines to the sites of damage in the skin.

Lastly, hydrocortisone blocks the release of histamine. Because histamine is involved in inflammation and itching, this effect can significantly reduce the severe itching experienced by eczema patients.

Hydrocortisone creams should be used with care. They should not be applied on the face or genital and rectal areas unless directed by your doctor. This is because hydrocortisone can thin the skin and make it photosensitive. They also promote the formation of stretch marks on the skin.

Therefore, hydrocortisone creams should be used sparingly and applied thinly on the affected area.

In some cases, hydrocortisone creams have been known to worsen the itching and skin dryness or cause severe rash. Those who experience these symptoms should stop using the medication.

Hydrocortisone cream is not recommended for long-term use. If symptoms do not improve after 7 days, you should stop the medication.

Types of Eczema Creams
  • Topical Steroids – reduces itch and inflammation by blocking histamine and pro-inflammatory cytokines
  • Topical Antibiotics – for treating eczema lesions especially when they have been infected
  • Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors – alternatives to topical steroids; they do not thin the skin. Therefore, they can be safely applied on the face and given to children
  • Urea – natural moisturizer to help lock in moisture in the outer layer of the skin
  • Plant Oils – to help lubricate the skin and prevent dryness and cracking
  • Petrolatum – to help seal up the outer layer of the skin and prevent evaporation of moisture

3. Eumovate and Trimovate

Eumovate and Trimovate are both topical creams containing clobetasone and manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.

While Eumovate contains only clobetasone, Trimovate also contains nystatin and oxytetracycline.

Clobetasone is a topical steroid like hydrocortisone. The concentration of this active ingredient in Eumovate and Trimovate is 0.05%. It is present in these products as clobetasone butyrate.

Eumovate and Trimovate should be applied sparingly on the skin twice daily. The small portion placed on the skin should be rubbed in gently until it disappears.

Clobetasone is a moderately potent topical corticosteroid. Its mechanism of action is similar to that of hydrocortisone. Therefore, it functions mostly as an anti-itch and anti-inflammatory medication.

These clobetasone creams are only recommended for short-term treatment of eczema. Clobetasone should not be applied on the skin for more than 14 days. Some of the side effects of this medication include thinning of the skin, appearance of stretch marks and skin discoloration.

If the eczema patches to be treated are already infected, Trimovate (and not Eumovate) is the clobetasone cream to use.

Besides clobetasone, Trimovate contains an antifungal agent (nystatin) and an antibacterial agent (oxytetracycline).

These two antimicrobial agents can help kill off pathogenic bacteria and fungi (the 2 major types of microbes responsible for skin infections) on the skin. Signs of infected eczema lesions include yellowing, crustiness and oozing.

4. Exzaderm

Exzaderm is a moisturizing cream made from botanicals. The active ingredients in this eczema product are natural oils derived from plants.

The ingredients in Exzaderm include

  • shea butter which has a moisturizing and anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. Although it has a creamy and oily texture, it leaves no residue on the skin. Shea butter is also included because of its healing effect on the skin;
  • jojoba seed oil, a natural moisturizer and anti-inflammatory agent. In addition, this oil has antibacterial properties that can be useful in the treatment of infected eczema lesions;
  • safflower seed oil, a lubricant and moisturizing agent. It is also a source of linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties;
  • evening primrose oil which also contains gamma linolenic acid and known for its ability to repair damaged skin;
  • emu oil, a moisturizer, anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant agent. This oil is also known for its soothing and anti-bacterial properties;
  • olive fruit oil which is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E and anti-inflammatory agents such as monounsaturated fatty acids;
  • oat kernel oil, a soothing and moisturizing agent that is especially recommended for sensitive skins;
  • carrot seed oil, included for its rejuvenating effect on the skin. Its healing properties is due to its ability to stimulate cell growth. Carrot seed oil reduces the permeability of the skin by firming it up. It also prevents cracks from forming on the skin by improving the elasticity of the skin;
  • calendula flower oil, included for its ability to help soothe the skin, prevent tissue damage, promote skin repair and suppress inflammation.

5. Neosporin

Neosporin Eczema Essentials is a daily moisturizing cream from Johnson & Johnson.

It uses the proprietary RELIPID formula which is formulated to moisturize, repair and protect the skin. The RELIPID formula includes 4 categories of active ingredients. These are outlined below.

The RELIPID Formula

  • Humectants such as glycerin and panthenol. These are meant to attract and trap moisture in the skin.
  • Emollient such as mineral oil, dimethicone and saturated fatty acids. These help make the skin soft and smooth.
  • Lipids such as ceramide and triglycerides. These are included to help the skin retain moisture and improve its elasticity and strength.
  • Botanicals such as oat kernel extract and oil. These are for soothing and moisturizing the skin.

However, the core ingredient in Neosporin Eczema Essentials is its 1% colloidal oatmeal.

Colloidal oatmeal is prepared from the powder obtained from grinding whole oat grain. This ingredient is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help soothe and protect the skin and for treating eczema and rashes.

Colloidal oatmeal is a skin protectant. It serves as secondary, temporary barrier for sensitive and broken skin. When properly applied, it protects the skin of eczema patients from toxins, irritants and even ultraviolet rays.

Neosporin Eczema Essentials is a safe and effective cream for eczema. Most users begin to experience relief 3 days after starting it.

Because it contains no topical steroids or antibiotics, this product can be used daily for as long as required and by all age groups.

6. Aveeno

Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream is another eczema cream containing colloidal oatmeal.

As discussed above, colloidal oatmeal is a skin protectant. Besides keeping out irritants and environmental triggers of eczema, it can also help the skin retain moisture. In addition, colloidal oatmeal can restore the skin’s normal pH.

The cellulose and fiber of oatmeal makes this preparation ideal for soothing and softening the skin.

However, this passive emollient property is not the only reason why colloidal oatmeal is effective in the treatment of eczema. It also contains certain active ingredients that can actively improve skin health and relieve the symptoms of eczema.

For example, colloidal oatmeal contains flavonoids which are antioxidants. Flavonoids can also absorb ultraviolet (UVA) light and prevent exposure to sunlight from damaging the skin.

Other ingredients of colloidal oatmeal are vitamin E (an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory vitamin), a group of compounds known as avenacins (antifungal agents), saponins (cleansing agents that can help remove irritants from the skin), phenols and starches.

Besides colloidal oatmeal, Aveeno also contains ceramide, a lipid normally found in the skin.

By replenishing ceramide in the skin, Aveeno improves the physical barrier of the skin and restores its protective functions.

Aveeno is a safe, well-tolerated and well-reviewed eczema cream. Most users reported that it providesd immediate relief for itch, painful, burning sensations as well as dry and inflamed skin.

Sources


http://allergies.about.com/od/skinallergies/a/topicalsteroids.htm

http://allergies.about.com/od/skinallergies/a/atopicdermtx.htm

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682793.html

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