The 12 Best Eczema Creams for Head- to- Toe Relief, According to Dermatologists
In case you're not so familiar, eczema is a frustrating skin condition that causes dry, rash-like irritation that can eventually even lead to painful sores and blisters. "Clinically, it can look like inflamed red skin, dark-colored patches, scaly, rough or leathery skin or oozing crusting skin," explains Marie Hayag, M.D., a New York-based dermatologist and founder of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics. "There are different types of eczema, but the most common type is atopic dermatitis or 'classic' eczema that usually presents with pink, itchy, dry, or inflamed skin," she adds.
Eczema is so common that Dr. Hayag says around one in 10 people will develop eczema at some point in their lifetime. While the cause of eczema is not entirely known, a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune triggers are involved, says Dr. Hayag. And even though there is no cure, thankfully, eczema can be controlled using medication, proper skin-care, trigger avoidance, and coping mechanisms, she adds.
If you struggle with eczema, you know just how difficult it can be to find creams and lotions that offer relief for the dryness, redness, and itchiness that comes with the condition. To make life easier, keep scrolling for what to know when shopping for moisturizers, as well as the best eczema creams, ointments, and lotions that dermatologists recommend. (Related: The Absolute Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin, According to Dermatologists)
The Best Eczema Creams, According to Dermatologists
- Best for Face: Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream
- Best for Face and Body: Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion
- Best Lotion: Curél Skincare Extra Dry Skin Therapy Hydra Silk Moisturizer
- Best Balm: Aveeno Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm
- Best Moisturizer: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Moisturizer
- Best Hand Cream: CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream
- Best Hand Mask: Aveeno Repairing Cica Hand Mask
- Best Budget-Friendly Eye Cream: CeraVe Eye Repair Cream
- Best Anti-Aging Eye Cream: Peter Thomas Roth Vital -E Microbiome Age Defense Eye Cream
- Best for Feet: Love, Lori Foot Finish Foot Cream
- Best for Lips: Vaseline Lip Therapy
- Best Itch-Relief: Sarna Steroid-Free Anti-Itch Lotion
How to Find the Best Eczema Cream?
When considering over-the-counter creams, Dr. Hayag suggests keeping an eye out for occlusives, humectants, and emollients. "Occlusive ingredients to look out for are petrolatum and silicone derivatives such as dimethicone," says Dr. Hayag. "Humectants are hygroscopic (or water-attracting) moisturizers that actively pull and absorb water and hydrate the outer layer of the skin," she adds. You're likely to find humectants, such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid, in many of the skin-care products already in your arsenal. Shea butter, colloidal oatmeal, and ceramides are all emollients that are great for moisturizing the skin, as well. (Related: There's a Difference Between "Moisturizing" and "Hydrating" Skin-Care Products)
Those with eczema should lean into moisturizers that have high oil content over water content, as this will actually draw more water into the skin and reduce water loss. An ointment is actually a far better option over a lotion, notes Dr. Hayag. Why? Ointments have the highest oil content of all the products, so they don't generally burn when they're applied to sensitive skin and are very good at sealing in moisture, she explains.
Ointments with high oil content typically are the ones that feel greasier, a tell-tale sign you're on the right track. "Products high in oil content, such as petroleum jelly and mineral oil, are particularly good for treating eczema," says Dr. Hayag. That said, if you don't like the feel of petroleum jelly, a cream is your next best option. "Creams are second to ointments in the amount of oil they contain and are also very good at sealing in moisture," points out Dr. Hayag. And since they contain less oil, they are also less greasy to the touch. (Related: Electrolyte Skin Care Is Like a Sports Drink for Your Face)
If you're looking specifically to relieve flare-ups, Dr. Hayag recommends creams featuring ingredients such as pramoxine hydrochloride, niacinamide, and hydrocortisone, which work quickly to soothe itchiness and irritation.
Best Prescription Eczema Creams
Dr. Hayag often prescribes topical steroid creams to her clients due to their effectiveness in rapidly treating redness, inflammation, and itchiness. Specifically, she likes calcineurin inhibitors such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel) for reducing the immune response that causes these irritations. These are great non-steroidal creams that help maintain control of eczema and decrease the number of eczema flare-ups, she adds.
She also recommends crisaborale (Eucrisa) as a non-steroidal cream that can be used in children as young as 2 years old, and mupiricin ointment, which is a topical prescription antibiotic for staph infections commonly found in eczema patients. (Related: The Best Body Washes for Eczema, According to Dermatologists.)
Best Over-the-Counter Eczema Creams
Since eczema needs to be diagnosed by a physician, scheduling an appointment with your doctor is a good first step. But if you're looking for a nourishing, hydrating product to help treat dry, irritated skin without seeing a professional, there are plenty of moisturizers you can buy online without a prescription — although some are better than others. Just be sure to avoid creams, lotions, and ointments containing fragrances and perfumes, and patch-test products on your skin for 24 to 48 hours before going ham and applying it all over, advises Dr. Hayag.
Ahead, the best eczema creams, according to dermatologists.
Best for Face: Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream
If you're having a flare-up on your face, this cream should be your go-to. "It contains zinc oxide and copper oxide which promote a healthy healing environment, and because it is a thicker formula, it protects damaged, irritated skin from external irritants," says Dr. Hayag. This cream is especially good for healthcare workers with facial mask irritation during the coronavirus pandemic, she points out. (Related: Why All of Your Skin Issues Are Flaring Up Right Now.)
One reviewer wrote: "So gentle and protective. I tell everyone with sensitivity or moisture barrier issues about this because it was the only thing that helped calm my most severe flare-ups of rosacea and eczema on my face. Now, whenever I feel irritation coming, I pare down my skincare to just [use] Cicalfate+ for a few days."
Best for Face and Body: Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion
Perfect if you can't stand heavy, thick consistencies, this lightweight cream has a non-greasy, fragrance-free formula that's suitable for use on the body and face, making it a great option for people who prefer a low-maintenance moisturizing routine, notes Dr. Hayag. It's formulated without common chemical skin irritants, including dyes, lanolin, formaldehyde, and parabens, and has even been awarded the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association.
"I have dry skin, and eczema and I've tried hundreds of lotions and potions over the years," shared one Amazon shopper. "This brand is the best! It moisturizes without feeling greasy, and without the itching and/or chemical burn that I encountered with so many other brands."
Best Lotion: Curél Skincare Extra Dry Skin Therapy Hydra Silk Moisturizer
Smooth on this body lotion right after you hop out of the shower, as this is when your skin's ceramides are the most depleted, advises Dr. Hayag. "Ceramides are lipids naturally found in healthy skin and are essential to maintaining a healthy moisture barrier," she says. Unfortunately, over time, environmental factors, genetics, and lifestyle can all diminish ceramide levels in the skin, weakening the moisture barrier and thus leaving skin more prone to irritation, dryness, and inflammation, explains Dr. Hayag. This lotion not only helps replenish those ceramides, but it also draws additional moisture into the skin.
"Great lotion, I occasionally have eczema on my elbows so I try and stay away from scented lotions," a reviewer said. "It goes on super smooth and doesn't feel greasy at all."
Buy It: Curél Skincare Extra Dry Skin Therapy Hydra Silk Moisturizer, $11 was $12, amazon.com
Best Balm: Aveeno Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm
This thick balm won't feel as greasy as an ointment, but it's moisturizing and protective nonetheless. Dr. Hayag likes it because it contains ceramides and colloidal oatmeal, a skin protectant that also helps maintain a healthy moisture barrier. Its nourishing and non-irritating formula also makes it great for soothing flare-ups, providing inflammation and itch relief for up to six hours. This skin-softening pick has earned the National Eczema Association Seal of Approval. New York City-based dermatologist Orit Markowitz, M.D., also recommends the brand's Soothing Bath Treatment to tackle flare-ups because of its high concentration of colloidal oatmeal. (Related: 12 Soothing, Hydrating Oatmeal Products Your Skin and Hair Need)
One Amazon customer wrote, "I cannot recommend this enough. I have terribly dry, cracking, and painful skin and dyshidrotic eczema. This is the only company that has successfully treated my eczema and dry skin without causing more flare-ups (outside of strong steroids)."
Best Moisturizer: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream Hydrating Moisturizer
Dr. Hayag is a fan of this face cream for eczema breakouts. It's packed with hyaluronic acid (30 percent, to be exact), ceramides, and antioxidants and will keep your skin hydrated all day. "It also contains Pentavitin, a proprietary ingredient that binds to the skin and keeps it moisturized even after washing," adds Dr. Hayag. Those with eczema will appreciate that it's free of alcohol, fragrance, and oil, as well.
When describing the texture, one eczema-prone reviewer said that it "glides on so smoothly. It's very sheer and velvety, but still feels very moisturizing." They also added that it "will always be a part of my skin-care regimen" and that it "does not irritate my skin."
Best Hand Cream: CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream
This hand cream contains dimethicone, which Dr. Hayag describes as a skin protectant that blocks cold wind and other irritants from wreaking havoc on your delicate skin. The drugstore-favorite formula, which has been accepted by the National Eczema Association, also has hyaluronic acid and ceramides, both of which help maintain the skin's natural moisture. (Related: Shoppers Say This Margot Robbie-Approved Hand Cream Makes Age Spots and Crepey Skin Disappear.)
"I have eczema, so I'm pretty picky about what I put on my skin," shared one shopper, who said that this is the "only moisturizer" they'll use on their hands. "When I saw this, I decided to try it for my dry, often cracked, itchy, over-washed hands. It works great! I love that it absorbs quickly, so there's no greasy feeling — just leaves my hands feeling soft and moisturized."
Best Hand Mask: Aveeno Repairing Cica Hand Mask
A quick fix for dry, irritated hands, this mask leaves hands feeling smooth, soft, moisturized, and protected after just 10 minutes. Key ingredients include oat extract, glycerin, and shea butter, which come together to blanket dry, itchy skin in intense hydration and restore balance. The non-drip glove design ensures that the formula stays on your skin for a mess-free treatment.
According to a reviewer with "severely dry hands," one hand mask treatment left their skin feeling smooth "days later." Another added, "Immediately felt the difference and my dry chapped hands were healed. Seriously, it was magic."
Best Budget-Friendly Eye Cream: CeraVe Eye Repair Cream
Not only is this eye cream loaded with hyaluronic acid and ceramides, but it's also cost-effective. "Ceramides and hyaluronic acid make this drugstore eye cream a cult favorite," says Hayag. "It hydrates the skin and helps restore the delicate skin barrier in the eye area, including the eyelids." These hydrating ingredients are combined with the brand's marine and botanical complex, which boosts radiance in the dark under-eyes, smooths away texture, and reduces puffiness. (Related: The 10 Best Eye Creams That Firm, De-Puff, and Brighten Dark Circles.)
"[I have] eczema on my eyelids for months and hydrocortisone cream wasn't even cutting it," explained one Amazon customer. "A week of this stuff and my itchiness is gone. My eyes are no longer red and I can actually wear eye makeup again."
Best Anti-Aging Eye Cream: Peter Thomas Roth Vital-E Microbiome Age Defense Eye Cream
If anti-aging is a top concern along with eczema, this product does double duty. Ginger extract minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while ceramides soothe dry, flaky skin and help it retain moisture. The under-eyes get a dose of brightening and depuffing from caffeine, which also creates firmer and more refreshed-looking skin. It gets Dr. Hayag's stamp of approval, because it supports a healthy microbiome, contains antioxidants, peptides, and probiotics. (Related: The Best Anti-Aging Eye Creams, According to Dermatologists)
One reviewer raved, "Love it as a night eye cream, and have seen a difference in how moisturized and supple the skin around my eyes looks after a month of daily use. If you have sensitive skin and struggle with eye products, this one will do you right."
Best for Feet: Love, Lori Foot Finish Foot Cream
"Urea, which is a humectant, can be very helpful in terms of keeping the feet smooth," Dr. Markowitz says of this foot cream's all-star ingredient. The fast-absorbing formula provides instant relief and works to heal dry, cracked, and itchy skin by repairing the moisture barrier, which helps kick-start its renewal process. In addition to soothing dryness in eczema-prone skin, it can also be used as a remedy for calluses and corns.
"Great for eczema," wrote an Amazon shopper. "It dries it up and helps with itching in the acute stage, and keeps it moisturized enough that it doesn't crack and turn fire engine red when in the subacute stage. I have a really bad flare-up right now, but this urea cream is keeping it from driving me absolutely insane."
Best for Lips: Vaseline Lip Therapy
For Dr. Markowitz, Vaseline Lip Therapy is a go-to because of its simple formula. "The best lip balm for eczema is one that is thick and doesn't have too many preservatives," she shares. With the brand's famous petroleum jelly at its base, this pick infuses inflamed, chapped lips with rich, soothing moisture and locks it in to prevent future dryness. Not only is it great for long-lasting relief, but its non-greasy and non-sticky formula ensures comfortable wear. For those who prefer a tinted lip balm treatment, Dr. Markowitz also recommends the Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm. She adds, "I really like this because it also has SPF in it.
"When my lips are super dry and cracked, this is the only product I've found that truly helps," one reviewer said of the Vaseline Lip Therapy. Another shared, "I had a skin reaction to something and it's recommended by my dermatologist. Soothing and helps healing."
Best for Itch Relief: Sarna Steroid-Free Anti-Itch Lotion
When itchiness strikes, Dr. Markowitz recommends reaching for this over-the-counter topical treatment, which soothes distressed skin using cooling camphor and menthol. It also locks in moisture to repair the skin and prevent future dryness and itchiness. The lotion is also available in a sensitive skin formula, which stops irritation with itch-relieving pramoxine hydrochloride.
"Sarna is a skin and sanity saver," proclaimed an Amazon customer. "I suffer from stress-induced eczema. I have a steroid cream that I can use up to twice a day, but Sarna makes a huge difference in how quickly my skin heals up, because it offers immediate relief and I can use it as much as I need throughout the day."