The 11 Best Creams for Eczema of 2023 to Treat Dry, Flaky Skin
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These dermatologist-approved creams will relieve your eczema woes fast.
Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions in the world. In fact, one out of every 10 people will experience a bout of dry, itchy, and inflamed skin from eczema at some point in their life.
Eczema is a broad term that encompasses a variety of conditions that cause itchy, irritated, or inflamed skin. And while there are certain subtypes of eczema, the word is typically used to describe atopic dermatitis. At the heart of the problem, and its treatment, is moisture.
“Those with eczema do not have the ability to sufficiently produce or retain a good barrier on their skin,” explains Dr. Jeremy Fenton, a board certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “When that barrier is deficient, it is easier for allergens or irritants to penetrate deeper, and that penetration, along with a strong immune response, leads to inflammation.”
But when the skin barrier is sufficiently moisturized, those irritants won’t be able to penetrate the skin. The most reliable, tried-and-true solution to heal eczema and prevent it from recurring is eczema cream. Of course, with so many eczema creams flooding the market, it can be hard to know which are actually effective. With this in mind, we researched the top-rated eczema creams — and even put a few to the test firsthand. To determine just how effective each cream was, we applied it daily on a patch of inflamed skin over a 2-week period.
During testing, we paid close attention to texture and transferability, as well as the value of the product, and how well it hydrated skin by the end of our trial. Our experiment helped us uncover four proven formulas, and inspired us to seek out other products with similar attributes. Which brings us to: The 10 best eczema creams of 2023.
Related: The 11 Best Ceramide Moisturizers of 2023 for Healthy, Radiant Skin
Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+M Triple Repair Moisturizing Body Cream
What We Love: Not only is this rich cream immensely hydrating, but it also helps even skin tone.
What We Don’t Love: This is a very thick cream, so it’s sometimes difficult to get it out of the pump bottle.
The La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+M Triple Repair Moisturizing Body Cream earned our top pick thanks to its deeply hydrating formula and impressive value. This multitasking cream is jam-packed with skin-soothing ingredients, including colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, and niacinamide; and also harnesses the anti-inflammatory mineral properties of the brand’s thermal spring water. We found that, together, these ingredients worked well to not only help speed up the healing process of current eczema flares but prevent new ones from being triggered, too.
Because of this — and considering the fair price point — we found this cream to be a great choice for those looking for an affordable remedy for maintaining hydration, whether you have eczema or sensitive skin in general.
There are some things to keep in mind when adding this cream to your cart, though. Throughout our two-week testing period, we found that the formula worked well to prevent new flares but didn’t fully clear current ones. With continued use, we’re confident that the cream could ameliorate stubborn eczema patches.
Price at time of publish: $20
Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, niacinamide｜Skin Type: Dry｜Size: 13.5 oz
Best Budget: Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream Full Body Lotion for Eczema-Prone Skin
What We Love: One little dollop of this cream will go a long way — meaning you won’t go through it too quickly, even with your peskiest eczema flare-up.
What We Don’t Love: It can be challenging to squeeze the dense cream out of the bottle.
Eucerin’s signature eczema cream offers a very effective treatment at a seriously low price. With colloidal oatmeal, ceramides, and glycerin, it’s hydrating and will relieve itching for up to 24 hours. It’s also free of any fragrance, dye, or steroid, which Dr. Fenton says is one of the cardinal rules when considering creams for eczema.
“I recommend products that have the fewest number of ingredients and no added fragrance, in order to avoid allergic reactions or irritation,” he says.
Despite having his seal of approval, we still wanted to try it out for ourselves — and we’re so glad that we did. While testing the Eczema Relief Cream nightly over a two-week period, we found many attributes worth writing home about. For one, the texture is thick and buttery, just like normal body lotion, which made it easy to rub into skin, even if it did take a few more seconds to fully sink in. Additionally, this cream lacks the medical scent that so many eczema creams feature, which was a pleasant surprise. While it can be difficult to dispense at times, this can’t be beat for the price.
Price at time of publish: $12
Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, ceramides, glycerin｜Skin Type: Dry｜Size: 8 oz
Best Splurge: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream
What We Love: Despite its thick texture, this cream absorbs in no time and doesn’t leave any sticky or greasy feeling.
What We Don’t Love: You may spend a bit of time rubbing this cream into your skin.
This newly launched intensive cream from Kiehl’s is all about repairing the skin’s moisture barrier. With beta glucan complex, colloidal oatmeal, and a variety of phenolic compounds, this facial cream provides a long-lasting solution to eczema. It offers instant relief for dry skin and, according to the brand, starts working to improve barrier function in just one hour. The balm-to-cream consistency starts rich, but absorbs quickly, leaving a breathable, but protective layer of hydration. Even better, this cream has received the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance.
Price at time of publish: $48
Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, phenolic compounds, beta glucan complex｜Skin Type: Dry｜Size: 1.7 oz
Best for Itchy Skin: Sarna Original Anti-Itch Lotion
What We Love: Sarna is free of steroids, parabens, fragrances, and other harsh chemicals, so it’s gentle on irritated skin.
What We Don’t Love: Those with very cracked or fissured skin may find the camphor and menthol has a burning effect.
“Those with very itchy skin sometimes find relief in ingredients such as camphor or menthol,” explains Dr. Fenton. “One product with these ingredients is Sarna lotion.”
As the strongest anti-itch medication you can get without a prescription, Sarna provides intensive relief, but is formulated with sensitive skin in mind. It can be used for targeted relief or as a daily moisturizer.
“Patients can store their Sarna lotion in the refrigerator, so it is cooling when they place it on the skin,” suggests Dr. Fenton.
Price at time of publish: $11
Active Ingredients: Camphor, menthol｜Skin Type: Dry｜Size: 7.5 oz
Best for Face: Vanicream Moisturizing Cream for Sensitive Skin
What We Love: This lightweight lotion has relatively few ingredients, so it’s safe to use on the most sensitive of skin.
What We Don’t Love: Some may find it too heavy for daytime.
Although most people have only experienced eczema on their bodies, the face is far from exempt — and when that does happen, you want to reach for a simple, fragrance-free lotion, like this one from Vanicream. It’s lightweight and absorbs fast, but the formula’s petroleum is what really sets it apart. Not only did this deeply condition skin, but the petroleum also locked in that hydration for hours.
Truly, when we tested this cream, we found that it delivered instant hydration to our skin and prevented any feelings of dryness or itchiness in the hours that followed. Best of all, when applied liberally daily, we found that our eczema flares were under control (though, admittedly, not entirely gone). That said, few OTC eczema creams are capable of fully vanishing flares, so the fact that this one considerably diminished ours makes it more than worthwhile in our book.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that part of what makes this cream apply so well is its thick, velvety texture (which many only prefer in winter). As lovely as it feels, we found that it can take a bit longer to fully settle into skin. Because of this, the cream has a greasy consistency at first, but rest assured it will sink in — and it won’t clog pores in the process. After all, this dermatologist-tested formula is also non-comedogenic, and it’s even earned approval from the National Eczema Association.
Price at time of publish: $14
Active Ingredients: Petroleum, sorbic acid｜Skin Type: Dry｜Size: 16 oz
Best Hydrocortisone: Cortizone-10 Maximum Strength
What We Love: Cortizone 10 means business and gets to work immediately, but added aloe vera will ensure continued skin soothing.
What We Don’t Love: This cream contains both parabens and sulfates, so it should be avoided for long-term use and instead used only for severe cases.
If and when your eczema gets to the point of serious discomfort — and you’ve already ruled out an alternative infection — you need something powerful, fast, and effective to get relief.
“An over-the-counter (or prescription) cortisone cream can always be helpful to not only relieve symptoms, but also reduce inflammation and treat the part of the root cause,” says Dr. Fenton.
Cortizone 10 will instantly help treat dryness and itchiness, and you can use it up to three times a day until your eczema has improved or healed. Formulated with one percent hydrocortisone — the highest concentration you can get without a prescription — your skin will be soothed and itch-free in no time.
Price at time of publish: $8
Active Ingredients: Hydrocortisone, aloe vera｜Skin Type: Dry｜Size: 2 oz
Best for Hands: Skinfix Eczema Hand Repair Cream
What We Love: This hand cream is seriously hydrating and can be applied as often as needed.
What We Don’t Love: It can leave a greasy feeling until it dries into skin.
It should come as no surprise that eczema breakouts on hands have become increasingly prevalent since the start of the pandemic, thanks to our constant handwashing and use of hand sanitizer.
With that in mind, it’s important to reach for an eczema cream that is specifically designed to treat the hands, like this one from Skinfix. Colloidal oatmeal calms itchy, distressed skin, while allantoin moisturizes skin and speeds up cell turnover, so you’ll shed the scales and flakes faster. Sweet almond oil provides a lightweight hydration that won’t feel too sticky.
In a seven-day clinical trial, participants showed a 111 percent improvement in skin hydration, and 91 percent said their hands felt relieved and protected after applying the hand cream.
Price at time of publish: $20
Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, allantoin, sweet almond oil｜Skin Type: Dry｜Size: 3 oz
Best Drugstore: CeraVe Eczema Relief Creamy Oil
What We Love: Colloidal oatmeal and hyaluronic acid join forces to bring amazingly lightweight hydration.
What We Don’t Love: Because of the lighter consistency, this option does not offer the same effectiveness that a rich cream would.
While no eczema cream should be truly lightweight, not every occasion calls for the thick texture of most eczema treatments. In fact, there’s nothing worse than the thought of sweating through an occlusive cream in the heat of summer or during a grueling workout. Enter: CeraVe's Eczema Relief Creamy Body Oil.
By combining the efficacy of a traditional cream with the silky feel of an oil, this product delivers occlusive hydration and protection, but is still absorbed quickly. Powered by three essential ceramides that work to seal in moisture and keep impurities out, it will not only calm the irritation found on the surface of your skin, but it also supports the skin barrier underneath to prevent future outbreaks.
Price at time of publish: $16
Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, ceramides, safflower oil｜Skin Type: Normal to dry｜Size: 8 oz
Best for Very Dry Skin: Aveeno Eczema Therapy Nighttime Itch Relief Balm
What We Love: It’s approved by the National Eczema Association and helps relieve itching almost immediately after applying.
What We Don’t Love: This balm is very dense, and during the warmer months, it can feel like you have a thin film on top of skin.
This popular balm from Aveeno offers the ultimate hydration to keep super dry skin soft and moisturized for hours on end. The main reason this overnight balm is so effective is because of its core ingredient: Colloidal oatmeal. Aveeno has conducted more than 30 clinical trials to study the effects of colloidal oatmeal — and in this formula, you’ll find three different types of the ingredient to provide one of the most effective treatments available. By combining oat kernel oil, oat kernel flour, and oat kernel extract, along with ceramides and glycerin, this heavy cream will intensely moisturize skin like no other. And it will do so without feeling sticky or stifling in the process, which isn’t the case with many eczema creams.
This is particularly important considering this balm is meant to be worn to bed. The body goes into repair mode while you’re asleep, and by slathering this ultra-thick nighttime treatment on right before you lay down, you’ll reap serious, long-lasting benefits and wake up feeling relieved. And we’re not just saying that! When we applied this balm, we found that it offered instant hydration and notable itch relief within 30 minutes of application, which made falling and staying asleep more comfortable.
When used nightly for two weeks on our hands and wrists, we were pleased to find that this made our skin look and feel more hydrated and less red, to the point that it actually fully cleared up mild eczema patches. We loved the effects so much that we couldn’t help but slather it on in the morning, too, for even more itch relief.
Still, while it made a notable impact on how our inflamed skin looked and felt, we didn’t find that it was able to fully fix severe flares. Because of that, we think that this balm is great to heal and deeply moisturize very dry skin, but will work best when paired with a higher-strength treatment, like Cortisone, on particularly troublesome patches.
Price at time of publish: $20
Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, ceramides, glycerin｜Skin Type: Dry｜Size: 11 oz
Best Ointment: Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
What We Love: Vaseline was awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, and it is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and won’t clog pores.
What We Don’t Love: Petroleum jelly tends to be quite thick and sticky, so it’s not ideal for daytime use.
For those with especially sensitive skin that can’t tolerate lotions or creams, Dr. Fenton recommends using Vaseline to treat their eczema. “This is because even the most sensitive brands often contain some type of preservative,” he explains. “For these patients, I do recommend trying plain petroleum jelly.” Vaseline will provide both instant relief and long-lasting protection by locking in moisture for dry or cracked skin.
Price at time of publish: $15
Active Ingredients: White petrolatum｜Skin Type: Dry｜Size: 13 oz
Best for Instant Hydration: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration
What We Love: This rich moisturizer not only helps relieve dryness, but also addresses redness and other signs of irritation.
What We Don’t Love: It smells a tad musky.
Regardless of what your eczema looks or feels like, the one thing that’s for sure is that it’s a result of dry skin. The quickest, most obvious way to fix that is with an ultra-hydrating cream, like this one from First Aid Beauty, which is filled with eczema-fighting powerhouses, including colloidal oatmeal to heal and protect irritated skin, shea butter, an emollient rife with vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids to moisturize skin and strengthen the skin barrier, and skin-softening allatonin.
In clinical trials, participants showed an immediate increase in skin hydration by 100 percent, and after two weeks, one hundred percent of participants said the cream soothed, moisturized, and conditioned skin.
Price at time of publish: $38
Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, allantoin｜Skin Type: Dry｜Size: 6 oz
Our Testing Process
To determine the best eczema creams of 2023, we first researched the top-rated formulas on the market. Then, we spent two weeks testing four of the 10 eczema creams on this list. We paid close attention to texture, tackiness, transferability, and the overall value of the products at hand. Most importantly, though, we evaluated how effective each eczema cream was at deeply hydrating skin and reducing inflammation and irritation. We did so by applying each product to a patch of inflamed skin daily, checking in to see how the eczema-prone area progressed over the two week trial. This led us to our top four favorite eczema cream picks. We then took what we learned from this testing experience and applied it to the market at large to further round out our list of the best eczema creams. We prioritized formulas with high shopper ratings, as well as those personally backed by our expert dermatologists, to present you with the best eczema creams of 2023.
What to Keep in Mind
“Mild to moderate eczema can be treated with over-the-counter skincare products that contain colloidal oatmeal or hydrocortisone, both available without a prescription,” says Dr. Audrey Kunin, a board certified dermatologist in Kansas City, Missouri.
These ingredients, both approved by the FDA for the treatment of eczema, are known to calm and soothe skin and relieve any itching or irritation. Dr. Kunin also suggests seeking eczema creams that pair these ingredients with ceramides that help repair skin barrier, as well as hydrating botanical oils rich in linoleic acid, such as evening primrose, black currant seed, and borage seed oils.
Additionally, you should avoid eczema creams with fragrance, as it could make matters worse.
Your Flare-Up Location
You should also consider where you will be using your eczema cream. If your flare-ups affect your eyelids and chin, you should opt for a cream designed for the face, especially one that is non-comedogenic and doesn’t feel greasy. However, if your eczema extends just to your hands, a thick hand cream may do the trick. The last thing you want to do is use too harsh of a cream on an already vulnerable area and risk making your flare-up worse.
And of course, if your eczema is severe or if over-the-counter remedies aren’t helping even after a few days, you should consult your dermatologist. “Eczema shows up as little fluid filled blisters (vesicles), clear crust (from the fluid in the vesicles), red bumps (papules), and scales,” explains Dr. Heidi Waldorf, a board certified dermatologist in Nanuet, New York. “If you see lots of golden-brown crust, it’s important to rule out impetigo, a superficial infection. Eczema is itchy. If it begins to be painful, an infection should be ruled out."
Your Questions, Answered
What heals eczema quickly?
Healing time will really depend on the severity of your eczema and where it’s located, but seeking out a source of moisture right away will definitely increase your chances of a speedy recovery. Creams with soothing ingredients, like colloidal oatmeal, will have an instantly calming effect and should relieve itchiness quickly.
How often should you apply lotion for eczema?
When it comes to eczema, the dose should match the outbreak. So, more severe cases will need more frequent treatment, while mild cases will require more minimal attention. With most eczema creams, there’s really no limit to how often you can apply — it comes down to personal preference and comfort level more than anything else.
However, creams that have hydrocortisone or steroids should not be applied more than two or three times a day.
Does lotion for eczema expire?
Like all skincare products, eczema creams and lotions do expire. You can typically find the expiration date on the bottle or jar, but in general, the shelf life is one to two years.
In most cases, using a cream after it’s expired will simply mean it won’t be as potent, but you do run the risk of using destabilized actives that could potentially cause or worsen contact dermatitis.
Why Shop With Us
InStyle contributor Gabby Shacknai has been writing about beauty for more than six years. For this story, she consulted three board certified dermatologists, Dr. Heidi Waldorf, Dr. Jeremy Fenton, and Dr. Audrey Kunin.
Related: The 11 Best Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin in 2023
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