In a study by scientists from Bath University, it was found that a cream prescribed to treat eczema can actually make the condition worse. Aqueous cream was found to thin the skin after just a few weeks of use due to the fact that it contains a detergent.
Originally this cheap cream was brought in to be used by eczema sufferers as an alternative to soap but eventually was prescribed as a leave-on moisturizer, althou
gh some doctors still only recommended it for washing. It is believed now that the ingredient SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) is responsible for thinning the skin. Used on someone with healthy skin, this product will eventually decrease the thickness of the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin) but used on compromised skin like eczema, it can have an even more profound effect.
SLS is found in a multitude of products because it is a cheap surfactant, it has foaming properties, so you’ll have it in many bath and shampoo products. I remember years ago taking a long hard look at the ingredients lists of all the shower gels in a Boots store and finding that every one of them contained SLS and SLES (sodium laureth sulphate, another surfactant), including the natural bath products.
I am an eczema sufferer myself and my two children unfortunately follow suit, so I have been through my times of distress over the years. I did try prescriptive preparations for a few months, but when I was not convinced of their safety, I turned to trusted aromatherapy and vitamin A. Essential oils I recommend for an aromatherapy blend would be chamomile (German or Roman), rose, bergamot and, especially for severe or weeping eczema, patchouli. My favourite base oils to use with a blend would be jojoba oil or carrot oil mixed with a thinner oil such as sunflower. To maintain the skin’s health when eczema is not erupting, I use an aromatherapy body cream in a shea butter or cocoa butter base. For bath and hair products, I trust Faith in Nature bath and shampoo gels which use a coconut derivative for their foaming action. Weleda is also good and, for a cheaper alternative, there is Jason. For anything that comes up painful and raw, I use any of Environ’s vitamin A products and, for children, their vitamin A Treatment Gel, which is safe to use on the face and body for all ages.