Moisturizers and Creams for Eczema Treatment in Children

Woman applying face cream to daughters face
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Moisturizers are one of the more popular and most effective treatments for eczema, both to prevent and treat eczema flares. But with so many different moisturizers on the market, it can be difficult to determine which are the best.

Kid-Friendly Moisturizers for Eczema

In general, most eczema experts recommend that you use as greasy a moisturizer as your child can tolerate, which usually means using an ointment, as ointment is typically the greasiest. A cream is usually next best and as a last resort, you could try a lotion.

There are several good moisturizers for children, including: 

  • Vaseline
  • Aquaphor Healing Ointment
  • Eucerin Original Moisturizing Cream
  • Eucerin Calming Creme
  • Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream
  • Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream
  • Cutemol Emollient Skin Cream
  • Mustela Dermo-Pediatrics, Stelatopia Moisturizing Cream
  • CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Other options exist as well. Parents and children sometimes prefer lotions because they seem to be the easiest to apply, but a greasy moisturizer like an ointment is often the best at trapping moisture into your child's dry skin.

How to Use Eczema Creams Correctly on Children

In addition to choosing the right moisturizer, you have to use it properly to control your child's eczema.

Most importantly, don't use hot water in your child's daily bath or shower. Hot water can make the dry skin worse and make healing more difficult. Additionally, follow the 'three-minute rule': Put moisturizer on your child's skin within three minutes of his getting out of the bath or shower. This quick response helps to trap the moisture from the bath or shower into your child's skin before it has a chance to evaporate.

To get the full benefit of a bath/using a moisturizer, it can also help if you gently pat your child's skin dry, so that it is still a little damp when you apply the moisturizer. Vigorously drying the skin with a towel will make the moisturizer less effective.

Also use a mild, moisturizing soap or soap substitute, like Dove, Oil of Olay, or Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, during the bath.

Atopiclair, Mimyx, and Hylira for Eczema

A number of nonsteroidal prescription creams and lotions are also now available to help moisturize your child's skin.

These include Hylira, Mimyx, and Atopiclair, and they may be more effective than an over-the-counter moisturizer for some children with eczema since they are also designed to repair the skin's barrier function.

What You Need to Know About Moisturizers 

In addition to applying your child's moisturizer immediately after a bath or shower, it can also help if you:

  • Use a fragrance-free moisturizer that is in an ointment or cream form.
  • Avoid moisturizers that contain alcohol and moisturizers that feel oily, since both can be more drying than ointments and creams.
  • Continue to use your moisturizer every day, even when your child's eczema is under good control.
  • Apply a moisturizer several times a day and not just after baths and showers.
  • After your child goes swimming, be sure to rinse him off and then quickly apply a moisturizer.
  • Consider using wet dressings or wet-to-dry dressings right after you moisturize your child's skin when he has hard-to-control eczema flares.
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Article Sources
  • Habif. Clinical Dermatology, 4th ed. Mosby; 2009.