Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a condition that makes your skin red and itchy, and it is the most common type of eczema. "Derm" means skin and "itis" means inflammation of the skin. So, when you hear the word dermatitis, it just means inflammation of the skin. Atopic dermatitis is chronic or long-lasting, and it flares periodically. Atopic dermatitis symptoms vary widely, but some hallmark signs you can look for are dry skin, severe itching (especially at night, red to brownish-gray patches (especially in skin folds, bumps that may leak, and crusty, thick, and scaly patches.
What causes atopic dermatitis (eczema)?
“Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is caused by a combination of immune system activation, genetics, environmental triggers, and stress. If you have eczema, your immune system overreacts to small irritants or allergens, and this overreaction can inflame your skin” (Mayo clinic).
Photocred: Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency’s “Sukoyaka Life (Healthy Life)” Vol. 43
What causes atopic dermatitis (eczema) to flair up?
Eczema is a genetic skin condition. Moreover, inheriting the gene from a family member is the root. Because it’s hereditary or genetic, we don’t know an exact cause, but there do seem to be things that cause it to flare up. There could be things like food, stress, or skincare that are very stripping or irritating to the skin. A lot of people who have eczema can also develop contact dermatitis. So, that means coming into contact with an ingredient or substance that your body doesn’t get along with. Atopic dermatitis may require you to see a dermatologist. Because if you can’t get diagnosed, you might not get access to the treatment options that you need.
Photocred: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Photocred: Medscape reference
What ingredients and products are good for atopic dermatitis (eczema-prone skin)?
Having atopic dermatitis can be extremely challenging, especially because the patches can range anywhere from mild irritation to incredibly disruptive. These patches can be on the face, the hands, behind the knees, the crooks of the elbows, or anywhere the skin rubs. While the patches can be painful, there are OTC products out there that might be able to help. Atopic dermatitis can hinder us from trying new products or even putting on makeup to cover it because you don’t want to use things that are going to irritate the skin.
For example, there are pretty affordable products from The Ordinary that Cassandra recommends.
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser -$9.90
Regular cleansing and hydrating are some of the best things that can be done for eczema outside of the doctor’s office. The Squalane Cleanser is something Cassandra would recommend from The Ordinary. Eczema skin has a problem with keeping moisture in because it’s so dry. It allows the moisture, hydration, and natural oils to escape the skin, and that leads to itching and pain.
Using a gentle cleanser like this one keeps the area clean without irritating the skin. This is not Cassandra’s favorite cleanser, and she spoke about how she didn’t like this for her skin because it doesn’t remove her makeup properly. But, for someone who is having a flair and is very sensitive, this is a nice oil-based cleanser. It comes out as a cream, and it works itself into an oil texture. This is very gentle but hydrating, and it maintains the balance of the skin. It’s got coco-caprylate which comes from glycerin. It also has glycerin which is a nice, hydrating soothing ingredient. And then, it’s also got some sugars and sucrose.
The good thing about sugars in skincare is that they can soothe the skin and help to hold onto moisture.
The Ordinary B5 & Amino Acids -$10.99
This next product is Cassandra’s favorite, and it’s kind of overlooked when it comes to eczema, but if the eczema is intense, you need to be put on medicine that can calm the body down. But, if you’re looking for over-the-counter treatments, and you don’t want to use CeraVe, this is a product that Cassandra would recommend looking into.
There’s a lot of science that’s emerging about B5 about its benefits for eczema. Proteins are what make up our skin and a lot of our bodies. Proteins are made of amino acids, and in skincare, there most widely used for anti-aging and hydration. What Cassandra likes is vitamin B5 is that it’s been shown to help sufferers soothe the itch. It can also help with fibroblasts proliferation. Fibroblasts arecells in connective tissues that produce collagen, elastin, and even hyaluronic acid.Remember, eczema is a condition where the skin is inflamed. Moreover, the skin can’t keep in its own hydration, and it doesn’t lock in hydration very well. Likewise, it gets super itchy.
So, this vitamin B5 can help with the itch by helping cells responsible for creating more of the good stuff. B5 has been shown to promote hydration and moisture. There is a specific medical study on vitamin B5 that shows its propensity to heal wounds.
This B5 product from The Ordinary is a great add-on to a regular skincare routine. Another important thing to point out is the fact that it does not contain phenoxyethanol. Phenoxyethanol is used in a lot of natural skin care products as a preservative, but it can irritate, especially for eczema-prone skin.
When it comes to atopic dermatitis skin (eczema), anything that has the potential to irritate should be avoided. So, while this product is a hydrator or water-based, it still has a preservative system and soothes and is gentle on the skin.
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors -$10
This is the Natural Moisturizing Factors Plus Hyaluronic acid from The Ordinary. Cassandra loves this one because it has a cloud-like texture. It feels really light on the skin. On irritated areas, you can go in with an oil or another hydrator to lock it in. and seal it through the day. With transparency, this is not Cassandra’s first recommendation for moisturizer. When it comes to moisturizers, she thinks there are other moisturizers out there.
The Ordinary “B” Oil -$10
This is the "B" oil from The Ordinary. It has B5 too, but it also has other B vitamins like B6 which helps with redness and inflammation. Moreover, it has some seed oils like argan oil.
The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics + HA -$12.93
Because of the algae in there, some customers fear using it because there is information out there stating that algae causes breakout. However, this test was done on rabbits and rabbit ears, and this doesn’t truly translate to human skin. Cassandra came across another article that looks at algae, specifically for acne and skin function, and there’s a lot of science that backs up the way algae functions on the skin. Algae is shown to be beneficial for acne and other inflammatory lesions such as eczema. Marine hyaluronic does have algae, and for eczema, this could be super helpful. But, there’s also conflicting evidence from other medical studies that say algae could cause flare-ups in some people who are sensitive to it or have reactions to certain ingredients.
As a general rule of thumb, you should patch test, especially if you have sensitive skin. Also, the more ingredients are in a product, the more likely the skin is to not get along with one of them. So, turn and learn your ingredients, and take things slow with new products!
Coverphoto cred: Thought catalog