On the Shelf: Eczema Care and Relief


Joanna Lewis, PharmD, MBA, gives an overview of eczema and its symptoms and provides details on the best available over-the-counter medications.

Joanna Lewis, PharmD, MBA: Hello, and welcome to this episode of Pharmacy Times’® “On the Shelf.

In this series we are exploring information about a variety of over-the-counter products that are helpful to consumers and providing opportunities for pharmacists to share their insights.

Products featured in this series come from the Pharmacy Times’® OTC Guide®. Now in its 25th year, the guide features pharmacists’ top recommended products and brands covering more than 800 products from 148 categories based on a national survey.

Pharmacy Times® also partners with U.S. News & World Report, an authority in rankings and consumer advice, to bring these pharmacist recommendations to consumers nationwide.

Now, let’s see what’s on the shelf.

Today we are talking about eczema care and relief products. Eczema is a term used to describe a group of conditions that cause inflamed, irritated, and itchy skin. Eczema affects up to 15 million Americans each year, and as many as 15% to 20% of people experience it at some point in their lives (infants 10% to 20%).

Eczema appears most commonly on the face, inside the elbows, behind the knees, and on the hands and feet. It has been linked to genetic and environmental causes; however, the cause is unknown.

There is no cure for eczema, but most cases can be controlled with a customized skin-care plan that may include moisturizers, prescription medications, and strategies to eliminate triggers.

Based on the 2021 OTC Guide®, it is estimated that there are over 748,000 recommendations made by pharmacists for eczema care and relief products each month. Also from the OTC Guide®, among eczema care and relief products, CeraVe was the brand pharmacists recommended most, followed by Eucerin and Aquaphor.

CeraVe products are formulated with ceramides, which are lipids that help restore and maintain the skin’s natural barrier. Eucerin is also a highly recommended product that acts as a moisturizer and skin protectant, and Aquaphor was 1 of my personal favorites when my infant had patches of eczema.

These products are gentle and fragrance-free.

Eczema can often be managed by good, consistent skin care, avoiding triggers, and managing stress.

Try not to scratch the inflamed area or rash, and relieve itchiness by using moisturizers, topical steroids, or prescription creams.

When choosing a moisturizer, choose a cream or an ointment as a moisturizer instead of lotions because they don’t work as well to penetrate the skin barrier. CeraVe, Eucerin, and Aquaphor make products that are good to try. Make sure you buy the formulations that are fragrance-free and have a low alcohol content to avoid additional irritation.

OTC antihistamine products can be used for severe itching and OTC steroid creams and ointments can also be applied to help with itching and redness.

Children and adults with eczema should avoid long, hot baths or showers that can dry out the skin and be sure to apply cream as soon as they get out of the bathtub. Moisturizers work best when they are applied to skin that is wet or damp. These products soften the skin and help it retain moisture. After washing or bathing, pat the skin dry, then apply the moisturizer right away.

If air is contributing to the dryness of skin, use a humidifier.

Wear loose-fitting clothing, and avoid scratchy fabrics like wool.

Avoid strong soaps and detergents.

Avoid things that you are allergic to, like animals, foods, dyes, and pollen.

Manage stress and other triggers that may cause flares.

Sometimes eczema requires a prescription treatment, so be sure to contact your physician or health care provider if you need further support or if you have signs of infections, such as fever, redness, and pain.

That’s it for this episode of On the Shelf. Thank you for watching. Keep an eye out for our next episode. In the meantime, check out more pharmacist recommendations and practical information at www.OTCguide.net and at www.PharmacyTimes.com.

Transcript edited for clarity.

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