Everyone knows that when you wash your hair, your shower should explode with the scents of honeysuckle, mango, and tea tree, right? You simply aren’t clean unless your nostrils are full of lavender or rosemary. And how can you know that you’ve applied eczema cream if it doesn’t smell like a pina colada? Your bathroom should be a clown car of flowery, fruity smells.

None of that is true. Yes, fragrances can enhance our experience with certain personal care products, but we often don’t think of the potential pitfalls involved in their use. The scents we use in commercial personal care products, whether natural or synthetic, are volatile organic compounds. They can trigger a number of sensitivities, causing adverse skin reactions for some and respiratory issues for others. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology has found that fragrances cause more allergic skin reactions than any other skincare component, translating to almost six million doctor visits annually.

The general population might not notice the damage fragrances are doing, but children, particularly those with eczema and other skin conditions are starting at a deficit. Their skin is already extra-sensitive to external environmental triggers. Their ideal eczema cream would contain only the compounds needed to relieve symptoms, while avoiding fragrances, colorants, and other unnecessary additives.

How Fragrances Damage the Skin

Fragrances are complex mixtures of essential oils, aroma compounds, solvents, and fixatives. It’s not uncommon for scents to be composed of dozens of different volatile compounds, each holding the possibility for an allergic reaction. And each fragrance has a unique chemical profile that could trigger adverse reactions.

Given this complexity, the chances are very good that any given product will contain at least one compound your skin is sensitive to. This triggers a localized inflammatory response that can lead to red skin, dryness, pain, and irritation.

These effects are happening no matter who you are, but your baby or young child’s skin is particularly sensitive to chemical additives. Any one of them could trigger or worsen an eczema flare-up.

If you’re already fighting a flare-up, why would you apply a skin treatment that could make things worse? That’s like trying to put out a fire by dousing it with alcohol and cooking oil. Fragrance-free baby eczema cream leaves out all of those possible irritants. They’re the best option for occasional or frequent eczema treatment because they include only what you want, and nothing more.

Ditch the Fragrances

So why should you switch to fragrance-free products? Because fragrances are ubiquitous in the products we use every day. Many times they’re added to counteract disagreeable scents caused by other active ingredients. You may not even realize they’re there. Given how pervasive they are, and the damage they can do, it’s best to avoid them where you can since you can’t avoid them all.

This is particularly true for babies, young children, and adults that suffer from eczema. Fragrance-free eczema treatments, soaps, shampoos, and body wash for eczema are the best options for people in these categories. Fragrance-free products are much less likely to trigger flare-ups and are far better suited to treat existing ones.