If your child suffers from eczema, you have to be particularly careful about what you apply to their body. Personal care products can host a range of ingredients that can irritate the skin and trigger a flare-up. Even products made specifically for eczema may host inappropriate components, as absurd as that sounds. It’s a bit like buying soap made from swamp mud and week-old garbage. It won’t get you clean and will likely make you smell a lot worse.

Your best defense is a good offense. Arm yourself with this list of ingredients to avoid if you have eczema. Look for them in any skincare product you’re considering purchasing. If you see one or two, or ten, you ought to consider going with something different. Or just buy this baby eczema cream. It’s safe, effective, and free of unwanted ingredients.

Fragrances

Whether natural or artificial, fragrances are complex chemical compounds that can contain many possible allergens, fixatives, and preservatives. Those with sensitive skin should avoid synthetic fragrances as well as essential oils and other herbal extracts.

Dyes

Dyes serve no useful purpose in skincare products; they’re added for aesthetic reasons only. Because of that, and because they can cause skin irritation, they shouldn’t be included in eczema-specific products and should be avoided elsewhere. Specifically, the National Eczema Association recommends staying away from D and C yellow #11, F, D and C blue #1, and F, D and C yellow #5 (tartrazine).

Abrasives

Abrasives are added to skincare products to gently (or not so gently) exfoliate and renew the surface of the skin. These can be useful in products intended for psoriasis patients, but atopic dermatitis sufferers should avoid them, as they can be severely irritating. Specifically, you should stay away from urea, benzoyl peroxide, mica, silica, bismuth oxychloride, and polyethylene beads.

Preservatives

Preservatives extend the shelf-life of personal care products, but many of them are poorly tolerated by eczema sufferers. Some, like benzoic acid (parabens), sorbic acid, and lactic acid, can be irritating to broken skin and kill beneficial skin bacteria.  Shampoos and other cleansers often contain parabens. Try a shampoo for eczema that’s paraben-free.

Retinoids

Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives that are wonderful for the skin, helping to remove free radicals, boost collagen growth, prevent acne, and protect against skin cancer. They’re also potent irritants for eczema sufferers and should be avoided.

Volatile Solvents

Ethanol and other alcohols are extremely drying to the skin and can cause or exacerbate existing flare-ups. Also worth avoiding is cocamidopropyl betaine, a common surfactant that can strip moisture from the skin.

Humectants

Propylene glycol can cause allergic reactions in people that are sensitive to it. Because this allergy isn’t common, the substance is often found in many products intended to fight eczema like topical steroids and anti-inflammatory medications. Until you know how you react to it, you should limit exposure.

Formaldehyde Releasers

Skin care products often contain formaldehyde for its antifungal and antibacterial properties. Eczema sufferers should avoid it. Less well-known are formaldehyde releasers, which gradually release formaldehyde onto the skin. We hope that their scary-sounding names are enough to dissuade you from them because eczema sufferers should stay far away from them. Avoid quaternium-15, 2 bromo 1-3 nitropropane diol, diazolidinyl urea, and imidazolidinyl urea.

Others to Avoid

A few other compounds to avoid are lanolin, a potential allergen, camphor, and octocrylene, an ingredient in many sunscreens that can cause a severe allergic contact dermatitis reaction in children.

Do your skin a favor and avoid these and the rest of the substances included in this article. The best way to help your child (or yourself) is to use an eczema cream guaranteed to be free of damaging compounds.