10 Skincare Ingredients to Avoid If You Have Eczema

If you or your child suffers from eczema, you must be careful about what you apply to the body and skin. Personal care products can host a range of ingredients that can irritate the skin and trigger an eczema flare-up

Even products made specifically for eczema may contain 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.

Skincare Ingredients to Avoid for Eczema

Your best defense is a good offense. If you have eczema, arm yourself with this list of ingredients to avoid. Look for them in any skincare product you’re considering purchasing. If you see one, two, or ten, you ought to consider going with something different.

1. Fragrances

Whether natural or artificial, fragrances are complex chemical compounds containing many possible allergens, fixatives, and preservatives. Those with sensitive skin should avoid synthetic fragrances and essential oils. Look for products with fragrance-free labels on them.

2. Dyes

Dyes serve no useful purpose in skincare products; they’re added for aesthetic reasons only. They can cause skin irritation, so 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
  • F, D, and C yellow #5 (tartrazine).

3. Abrasives (Urea)

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
  • Polyethylene beads.

4. Preservatives (Parabens)

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
  • Lactic acid
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI)
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MI)
  • Benzalkonium chloride

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.

5. Retinoids

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

6. Alcohol 

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

7. Humectants

Propylene glycol can cause allergic reactions in people who 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.

8. Formaldehyde Releasers

Skin care products often contain formaldehyde for its antifungal and antibacterial properties. It is best that people with eczema avoid it. Less well-known are formaldehyde releasers, which gradually release formaldehyde onto the skin. 

Avoid using 

  • Quaternium-15 
  • Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol)
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Imidazolidinyl urea.

9. Lanolin

Lanolin is derived from sheep’s wool and is mostly used in moisturizers due to its soothing properties and ability to lock moisture in the skin. However, people experiencing eczema or atopic dermatitis may develop allergy and reaction from it. Use lanolin-free products to avoid any complications.

10. Sulfates (SLS)

Sulfates are commonly found in shampoos, and moisturizers and should be avoided if you have eczema. These are cleaning agents used in products to remove dirt, and oil. Sulfates tend to strip away natural oil from the skin making it dry. The two most common sulfates that can worsen eczema are

  • sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
  • sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)

So look for sulfate-free eczema products.

How to Choose a Product for Eczema?

You love your skin and want the best for it. This is why it is important to take a few simple steps before choosing any skincare product for your eczema. Make sure you

  • Read the product’s label carefully before buying it.
  • Some natural ingredients, like essential oils, can trigger eczema, so don’t just buy any product because it contains all-natural ingredients.
  • Look for the ‘seal of acceptance’ on products by the National Eczema Association.
  • Consult your dermatologist or doctor about which ingredients you should avoid to help your eczema.
  • Patch test the product on a small area of skin, and wait for 24 to 48 hours to see the reaction. If a reaction occurs don’t use it.

Soothing Eczema With the Right Products

Choosing the right products for your eczema is as important as choosing the right diet for your health. If you are searching for eczema-friendly skincare products try Dr. Eddie’s Two-Step Eczema Skincare Routine

These products are specially developed by an experienced pediatrician, Dr. Eddie,  to help soothe eczema symptoms in babies, toddlers, children, and adults. 

  • Happy Cappy Daily Shampoo and Body Wash for Dry, Itchy, Eczema-Prone Skin is free from SLS and SLES. It contains natural ingredients like licorice root extract, oatmeal extract, and Hyaluronic Acid. It is a non-soap cleanser with a low pH level, which helps cleanse the skin without irritating it. 
  • Happy Cappy Moisturizing Cream for Eczema is free from almost all the possible skin irritants that you should avoid in your eczema cream. It is fragrance-free, dye-free, sulfate-free, paraben-free, gluten-free, lanolin-free, SLS-free, and balsam of Peru-free. This is why it has been rated 100% safe for eczema-prone skin by SkinSafe

Do your skin a favor and avoid these substances included in this article. And soothe your itching, irritation, and rashes associated with eczema with the right products.


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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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What skincare ingredients to avoid if you have eczema?

Avoid these common ingredients in your skincare products if you have eczema as these can worsen the condition.
1 Fragrances
2 Dyes
3 Abrasives
4 Preservatives
5 Retinoids
6 Volatile solvents
7 Humectants
8 Formaldehyde Releasers

If I have eczema, can I use salicylic acid?

No, any product that contains Salicylic acid should not be used if you have eczema. Salicylic acid tends to irritate the skin and can worsen the irritation and itching associated with eczema.

Can I use toner if I have eczema?

You can use a mild hydrating toner free from harsh chemicals on your skin. But any toner that contains alcohol or fragrance must be avoided. They can further exacerbate the eczema symptoms.

Can I follow my skincare routine if I have eczema?

Yes, a good skincare routine is beneficial for reducing itching, redness, and irritation associated with eczema. Your skincare routine must include
1 Cleansing the skin with a mild daily cleanser or an eczema shampoo, body wash, and face wash.
2 Keep the skin moisturized with an eczema cream at least twice daily.
If you want to add another product to your skincare routine, ensure it is free from harsh chemicals. Perform a patch test before using any product to avoid worsening the condition.
Try Happy Cappy Daily Cleanser and Eczema Cream. These are pediatrician developed specially for eczema-prone dry skin.

Why use fragrance-free products for eczema?

According to the National Eczema Association, fragrances can cause allergic contact dermatitis. Moreover, if your skin is prone to eczema, then the fragrances in the products can irritate your skin and trigger eczema.

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