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Eczema Treatment Products for the Body

By Cynthia Bailey MD. This page was updated on Sun, Sep 15, 2019

Dermatologist explains eczema on the body

The term eczema is most commonly used to describe atopic eczema, an inherited skin problem that describes the classic case of those born with “sensitive skin”. There are other types of eczema, however.

All forms of eczema share one thing in common - the skin barrier is damaged.

The skin’s water is lost more readily (transepidermal water loss, abbreviated TEWL), and things seep into the skin excessively. This is important because eczema makes your skin hypersensitive and easy to irritate. Allergens also seep in more readily so you need to use only hypoallergenic skin care products.

The rash of eczema is evidence of the breaks in your skin barrier. The rash is characterized by redness, scale, and sometimes weeping, crusting, and small fluid-filled blisters.

What are the main types of eczema on scalp, body, arm, leg, hand and feet skin?

Atopic dermatitis

This type of eczema is usually inherited. People with atopic eczema often have other family members with eczema. Asthma and hay fever are related to this type of eczema, as is dry sensitive skin.

All areas of the body can be involved with atopic eczema. The eczema often starts in childhood, beginning in the folds of the elbows and behind the knees.

The skin barrier of people with atopic dermatitis is always weaker than that of normal skin. Skin moisture is lost easily and skin irritation happens more readily, even without the active rash of eczema. Allergens also seep into the skin faster than with normal skin. Because atopic eczema prone skin also has immune hyperreactivity, this leads to allergic reactions to many things such as wool, perfumes, laundry soap, ingredients in skin care products etc. Atopic skin is truly hypersensitive! People with atopic dermatitis need to use hypoallergenic skin care products to prevent developing allergic reactions in the future. Areas of skin with active atopic eczema are prone to a skin infection called impetigo

Scalp eczema

This type of eczema is caused by seborrheic dermatitis. Scalp skin that is dry, red and itchy may have seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), which is a type of eczema. Skin with this type of eczema is sensitive and easily irritated by harsh personal care products, hair treatments and chemicals. The skin looks dry but the flakes are actually part of the rash and medicated dandruff shampoos often help control the eczema. If you have scalp eczema, you may also have seborrheic dermatitis on your upper back. Here the scale and redness are faint and the skin is typically oily. Pyrithione zinc shampoos and cleansers, such as Foaming Zinc Cleanser, help control seborrheic dermatitis.

Dry skin eczema

This eczema is also called asteatotic or nummular eczema. This type of eczema often starts on the skin of the arms and legs. It is due to dry skin, called xerosis. People are more prone to asteatotic and nummular eczema as they age. Skin repair mechanisms start dropping off at about the age of 55 years, making skin more prone to dryness and this type of eczema. Nummular eczema is characterized as round ‘coin shaped’ patches of eczema. Nummular actually means coin shaped. Asteatotic eczema looks like cracked dry skin, much like the bottom of a dry lakebed. Redness, scale and eventually weeping crust develop if left untreated.

Allergic contact dermatitis

Is a type of eczema due to skin touching something that it is now allergic to. Classic examples include poison oak or ivy. Harder to diagnose causes include allergens in personal care products such as fragrances and preservatives, or essential oils. Metal is another common allergic contact allergen.

Irritant dermatitis

As the name implies is eczema caused when skin is exposed to harsh chemicals, soaps or environmental conditions (weather and wind), which cause damage to the skin’s barrier. Strong acne care products and anti-aging skin care products can cause an irritant dermatitis too. Hand sanitizers and harsh soap often are the cause irritant hand dermatitis.

Dyshidrotic hand eczema

Is a type of eczema where the hands and feet suffer intensely itchy blisters. They develop on the sides of fingers, toes, palms and soles. The cause is unknown. These blisters can lead to painful cracks in this very thick skin.

Stasis dermatitis

Is eczema occurring on the lower legs due to poor circulation of the leg veins. It can be a chronic condition and the eczema can lead to serious skin infection called cellulitis.

Best Treatment for Eczema on the Body Skin

A hypoallergenic, hydrating skin care routine is extremely important for anyone with eczema.

That includes using only gentle soaps and cleansers, and cooler temperature water for washing and bathing skin. This is important to help avoid stripping skin oils and irritating sensitive skin.

Skin hydration is critical to heal eczema. This is done using products that lock in skin water soaked up during the bath or shower; apply moisturizer within the magic 3 minutes after toweling skin dry. You must apply a hypoallergenic and deeply hydrating moisturizer after bathing to gain control of eczema.

Sun protection is always important for skin health, and sunscreens should be both non-irritating and hypoallergenic.

What are the best skin cleansers for eczema?

Natural soaps made without botanical essential oil scents are a great choice as long as they are rich in glycerin, which is a natural byproduct of the soap making process that is often removed for its commercial value. Excellent options include my Naturally Best Bar Soap and Natural Foaming Liquid Hand Soap. Gentle pH neutral skin cleansers and bar soaps are another great choice for skin cleansing such as VaniCream Cleansing Bar.

What are the best skin moisturizers for eczema?

Use only hypoallergenic moisturizers that are free of fragrance and harsh preservatives. Light weight products are often not moisturizing enough. Look for products with oils, ceramides and glycerin. Excellent options include my Natural Lotion and Natural Body Butter.

The best sunscreens for people with eczema.

Sun protection is always important for healthy skin. Sunscreens for eczema should be both non-irritating and hypoallergenic. Mineral zinc oxide based products are the best choice for eczema prone skin. Avoid products with fragrances or botanical essences such as citrus, which is popular in sun screen products.

People with eczema need to avoid common allergens in the home and laundry products they use.

Home cleaning products are an important source of allergen exposure. Home cleaners need to be hypoallergenic and non-irritating. I have developed my All Purpose 100% Natural Liquid Cleaner Concentrate and Natural Spray Cleaner especially for my eczema prone patients. Hand dermatitis is worsened by allergens and irritants in home cleaning products, and atopic eczema prone skin readily develops allergic reactions to taunting home cleaning product ingredients! Yes, even your home cleaning products are important to your skin’s health when eczema is a skin problem. Laundry soaps should also be fragrance free and hypoallergenic. Avoid anti-static drier sheets, which leave a residue of allergens in fabric. Launder clothing held close to the skin with a detergent free hypoallergenic product such as my Natural Liquid Cleaner Concentrate, which is an excellent hypoallergenic soap for delicate fabrics.

Find hypoallergenic home cleaners and personal care products below that are ideal for people suffering from eczema.