September 17th 2019
The best bath and shower products for eczema sufferers
June 21st 2018 / 0 comment
Make bath time zen again with the oils, creams and washes that will cleanse and soothe eczema prone skin. No more itchy and scratchy after your morning shower…
Bath time should ideally be a blissful chillout window in an otherwise hectic day. Luxuriating in bubbles, pouring wine, floating your worries away...that kind of vibe. Except, if you suffer with eczema, in which case, baths and showers can present more stress than serenity, with everything from alcohol to fragrance to foaming agents in common bath and shower products aggravating and drying out eczema-prone skin, leaving it sore, flaky and itchy. Given that a daily wash is non-negotiable for most of us, finding a body cleanser that’s gentle on eczema skin and ideally not extortionate is essential. Here are the bath and shower products that wash well without provoking a flare-up, plus ideas for making bathtime a calming experience on all levels if you suffer from eczema.
The body washes
Aveeno Dermexa Emollient Body Wash, £7.99 for 300ml
My sister Ali, author of our Eczema Files column, swears by this emollient wash- it’s fragrance-free, rich in moisturising ceramides and comes recommended by the National Eczema Association. It effectively washes away dirt and bacteria that can makes eczema worse without irritating, leaving skin soft, although you’ll likely need to follow up with a leave-on emollient to keep eczema symptoms at bay.
Mustela Stelatopia Cleansing Cream, £11.50 for 200ml
You’ll notice that a fair few of the products in this edit are in the babycare market- your bathroom may have to accomodate teddy bear packaging in the name of eczema relief. Atopic eczema affects one in five children and can affect babies as soon as they’re born, hence the demand for baby friendly bodycare products, and they’re just as apt for adult eczema sufferers. This dermatologist developed sunflower oil infused wash restores the skin’s lipid balance, and it’s fragrance and foam free. While it does contain some alcohol, it’s fatty cetyl alcohol which shouldn’t dry out eczema skin, but do be aware of this addition to the ingredients list if alcohol is out for you. Going off on a tangent, apparently this is Khloe Kardashian’s baby wash of choice. I’m not sure if I needed to know that or not, but if you’re ‘Keeping Up’, I’ll just leave it there.
Westlab Soothing Dead Sea Shower Wash, £3 for 400ml
Moisturising, pH balanced and SLS free, this salt based body wash goes easy on your wallet as well as your skin (it's currently half price at Asda too). Dead sea salt, comprised of magnesium amongst other minerals, is renowned for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory action, and the glycerin in this formula helps to soften dry, flaky skin. Note that this wash does contain a bit of fragrance, so if you tend to react to perfumed products in any capacity, go fragrance-free instead.
Childs Farm Bubble Bath, £4 for 250ml
If you can’t quite come to terms with a bubble-free bath, this bath wash will bring the foam party, but by way of sodium coco sulfate, which is made from coconut and less irritating than SLS owing to its larger molecule size, although it can still cause problems for some so do a patch test before bathing. I know many a mum who glugs this into the bath for themselves as well as their sensitive skinned babies, and my sister has this stuff on repeat order too. There’s some naturally derived fragrance here, which shouldn’t cause problems for most, but again a patch test would be advisable if you have reactive skin.
The bath and shower oils
Bioderma Atoderm Shower Oil, £13.99 for 1000ml
The National Eczema Society generally recommends using an oil over a traditional foaming bubble bath or wash as they help to bind moisture to the skin and don’t aggravate dryness. This whopper of a bath oil can be applied pre-wash or mid-shower, on a soft, damp sponge if you prefer, and lifts grime, sweat and dirt without damaging the delicate skin barrier. It’s SLS free and contains niacinamide for additional barrier strengthening, and while it’s much loved by dry skin and eczema sufferers, you’ll pick up a subtle trace of fragrance, so patch test away, and move onto the next if it’s proves problematic...
Avène Xeracalm Oil, £15.50 for 400ml
This wins the approval of the eczema-prone and dermatologists alike for its fragrance-free, hydrating and itch-alleviating formula. It’s light feeling for an oil, yet gets straight down to business, cutting through crud and leaving behind a lipid layer to protect chapped, sore skin. It’s one of the pricier buys in this edit, but it melts away makeup so doubles up as a facial cleanser, and while it’s not sexy, sudsy or glamorous, it ticks all of the boxes for what an eczema appropriate product should bring to bathtime.
Westlab Dead Sea Salts, from £2.49 for 1kg
Ali gets through these by the truckload, and if you’re taking the waters in search of scratchy skin relief, she rates them highly. There are no bells and whistles, just magnesium, calcium and potassium to promote healing and relax muscles and mind. Studies show that dead sea salts have an anti-inflammatory effect on very dry, atopic skin, improving roughness and knocking the edge off of redness while also boosting moisture retention in the skin barrier, so they’re a fantastic all rounder whether you’re suffering from eczema, psoriasis or simply have skin as dry as the desert. At this price you can afford to trowel them in too.
Ameliorate Softening Bathing Powder, £19.50 for 350g
Technically not a 'salt', but a few scoops of this milky oat and sweet almond based powder in warm water creates a flake eliminating solution that leaves skin smooth, soft and far less flaky than when you entered. While it’s formulated to tackle bumpy skin associated with keratosis pilaris, it works well for extremely dry and eczema prone skin too, with plenty of moisturising ingredients to bolster the skin barrier. Perfume sneaks in there, so you know what I’ll say about that, but otherwise, it’s a relaxing way to shed your scales.
The eczema extras
A microfibre towel
My eczema correspondent turns to a soft, light microfibre towel during testing sore-skinned times when a regular towel feels too abrasive. They also dry quickly so are less likely to harbour bacteria. Hers is made by Kathmandu, but you can pick them up for a bargain from Aldi to Argos.
A scented bath candle
When you’re limited to bathtime basics in terms of smellies (or deliberate lack of smellies), a luxe scented candle can elevate your at-home spa situation. Allocate your toiletry budget to a classic Diptyque pick (rose and blackcurrant based Baies is one of Net a Porter’s best selling beauty products), or go budget by way of Aldi’s ever popular Jo Malone spin-offs. Also, eczema generally doesn’t preclude wine, so while your bath fodder may be functional, you can go to town on the frills.