Extreme eczema
February 11, 2013 9:06 PM   Subscribe

My partner suffers from a bad case of eczema. She is itchy on her neck, back, and arms nearly all of the time. She has tried every dermatologist, creme, lotion, potion, out there. The main culprit seems to be lanolin. We use fragrance free dryer sheets, laundry detergent, shampoo, etc. If you suffer from a bad case of eczema, do you have some wonder potion/idea/helpful hint we could employ?

The one temporary relief she has is petroleum jelly but that dries her skin out more after it has dried.

My question to you is:

Is there some lotion or potion out there that we are missing?
Is there some diet we (I would do it with her) can go on that would decrease her eczema symptoms?
Is there some one ingredient formula that has worked for you, AskMeFi suffererer of extreme eczema?

What can I do to help her? This would be the best Valentine's Day present ever if we could crack this. Thanks.
posted by timpanogos to Health & Fitness (44 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
My sympathies, I had terrible exzema as a child, and it plagues me to this day.

It's so particular, what works for one person may not work for another - or what works one day may not work the next!

That said, two things which are guaranteed to upset my exzema:

1. Temperature extremes, especially hot water and cold weather. So my showers are no longer as hot as I would like, and I'm still trying to figure out cold weather - don't know if it's the weather, or the layers I have to wear, in the weather, or the fact that winter tends to be dryer here.

2. A daily anti-histamine is hardly a panacea, but for me, I've noticed it can help with the peaks sometimes, when your skin is just in total meltdown.

3. Elocon cream (corticosteroid, mometasone furoate), is the only cream that's ever worked for me. Like all corticosteroid creams, the warning and sideeffect list is as long as my arm, but it's better than digging holes all over my body. Works immediately on small/moderate intensity patches. Does not work immediately on large or high-intensity patches. Just stings. Maybe makes them feel better in the morning.

Best of luck.
posted by smoke at 9:16 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Have you tried George's cream?
posted by Miss T.Horn at 9:16 PM on February 11, 2013

A colleague of mine with eczema gave up wheat (purely on a dare) and was surprised to find her eczema disappeared almost entirely. Actually, she simply gave up bread (and cakes and scones and pastries and pasta, etc), so it was not a super-extreme diet at all. YMMV.
posted by lulu68 at 9:20 PM on February 11, 2013 [7 favorites]

I sometimes get extremely itchy rashes on my hands, elbows, and around my feet, related to food allergies. I've found the best way to relieve the itch so I can sleep is to run the affected area under HOT water... as hot as I can stand... for a minute or so. I mean not scalding, but really, really hot. The itch will become more intense and becomes unbearable under the hot water, but at some point it subsides. From what I understand it's the skin releasing the histamines from the heat. Once the histamines are released, the itch is gone for hours. It works really well for me when I've got patches of stubborn (excema? psoriasis? I don't know). To treat the dryness from the heat, I use lotion, but that never bothers me. Your partner might want to try a simple oil on her skin, without perfumes or dyes, to relieve the dryness. Good luck. I know how uncomfortable that is.
posted by luciddream928 at 9:20 PM on February 11, 2013

IANAD, and frankly I think this is kind of woowoo and should ONLY be done under close supervision of a doctor as a last resort but you could consider looking into helminthic therapy (see also: hygiene hypothesis).
posted by Wretch729 at 9:22 PM on February 11, 2013

Daily (generic) Zyrtec has helped me a lot
posted by kbuxton at 9:25 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

My son had pretty severe eczema. We tried the hope and pray dietary modification thing, but never really got any traction until we took him to an allergist for skin prick testing. The skin tests showed us exactly to what he was allergic, and cutting those things from his diet cleared it right up.

If you haven't seen an allergist, you really should. It'll be the shortest path between you and relief. Don't guess.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 9:37 PM on February 11, 2013 [7 favorites]

I know several people who swear by this as what cured them of eczema: Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook. It treats the supposed root rather than the symptoms.
posted by Betty's Table at 9:37 PM on February 11, 2013

Yes, try giving up wheat.
posted by jbenben at 9:50 PM on February 11, 2013

I paste this here with no comment: Quackwatch: Dubious "yeast allergies".

An allergist may be helpful, but it sounds like she's been there already.
posted by smoke at 9:52 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have very sensitive skin and have found the Seventh Generation unscented laundry detergent to be the only one I can use (unscented All makes me itch). Rockin' Green unscented was recommended to me also, but I've just started using it and don't know yet if it's going to give me problems. On the advice of my allergist, I gave up fabric softener sheets and liquid completely.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 10:15 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

From my old roommate's experience- she eliminated wheat and dairy which really seemed to help but changing laundry routines up was a help too- unscented detergent with no 'stainguard' or 'fabric care' extra features (you don't want anything to stay behind even if it's supposed to be good for your clothes). Use half or 1/3 the suggested amount of detergent and an extra rinse cycle washing clothes, no fabric softener / dryer sheets (use those plastic studded dryer balls to eliminate static).

Also, sometimes aloe helped- she used to use it straight from the plant, but I think a plain no-name aloe gel from the drugstore (no added oils, etc if possible...) would work fine.
posted by variella at 10:29 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

The fact that you say lanolin is a trigger makes me think that animal allergies might be a big issue for you (lanolin=sheep). I don't think there is one instant cure-all lotion that can solve this, sadly.

I agree with trying many of the things upthread. I.e. daily antihistamines (I do this and it helps immensely); stop using any fabric softeners and dryer sheets (try a scoop of baking soda instead of fabric softener); try cutting out wheat and/or dairy; get allergy testing done to identify possible triggers; wear natural fibers to avoid getting sweaty skin; don't shower too often ( depending on activity level, once a day or even every other day is enough).
posted by Joh at 10:33 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

My sister has eczema, and her doctor recommended taking benadryl and pepcid for the days when the itching is really bad. Pepcid might seem unusual, but it is actually a histamine blocker and might help her itchiness.
posted by that girl at 10:48 PM on February 11, 2013

My daughter has mild eczema and a good friend has severe eczema (and has tried many things but has not found a cure), so I'm fairly knowledgeable on the topic.

I was going to suggest the same thing someone else mentioned, which is to try no dryer sheets rather than fragrance-free dryer sheets.

Has she tried Aquaphor instead of Vaseline?

Has she tried Cetaphil Restoraderm? I believe the creams such as Restoraderm that contain ceramides are a relatively new thing and some people find them to be more effective.

Has she tried Eastern (Asian) approaches such as herbal remedies and/or acupuncture?

Be careful trying UV therapy - my friend tried that and it made it much worse (excruciatingly bad).

I've heard of eczema being treated with anti-cancer drugs (I think the technique weakens immunity in hopes of decreasing the auto-immune aspect of eczema). Obviously some risks involved.

Definitely what other people have said about checking for allergies is very important.

Prednisone usually provides relief in acute situations but I presume is not a long term solution.

I hope she finds relief.
posted by Dansaman at 10:58 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another vote for getting tested for food allergies.
posted by Aliera at 11:02 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

FWIW, the best laundry detergent (according to Consumer Reports IIRC) is actually, surprisingly...none at all. might be worth a shot is it seems to be a clothes rather than diet issue...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:25 PM on February 11, 2013

I've had some success with after shower oils and various lotions.
posted by converge at 11:27 PM on February 11, 2013

Dansaman: "Has she tried Aquaphor instead of Vaseline?"

Aquaphor does unfortunately have lanolin in it. I've used Vasoline Creamy before with some success, though.

When I had particularly bad eczema I was on a prescribed anti-histamine, as well as Reactine, as well as prescribed corticosteroid creams. I recognize that she's probably tried all of this, though.

I'll second the heat of the showers thing, as well as showering less frequently.
posted by lookoutbelow at 12:57 AM on February 12, 2013

My mum found this stuff at a Sunday market one weekend many years ago and brought some home for me to try. It got rid of my eczema. So much so that after a while i stopped using it because it didn't come back.

Eventually it did and I used the salve again and it helped again. Which is my way of saying this isn't a cure but it definitely helped me a lot.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:11 AM on February 12, 2013

Unrefined shea butter has worked better than steroid creams for me.
posted by Fig at 2:42 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

Unfortunately there's no single thing that is likely to help anyone. Eczema is weird in that every sufferer seems to have a different set of things that 'work' to reduce the itching and aid recovery. It's really a case of finding out what works for you, and even then there's no guarantee that the same thing will continue to work for more than a few months or years. I'm fairly convinced that about 80% of the things I used to think helped my eczema were probably just placebos. The condition flares up and recedes in cycles over your life. Any apparent 'cure' is more than likely just the eczema flare-up reaching the end of its natural cycle. It'll be back.

With those caveats, here's my randomly-ordered list of things that have been effective over my 40-odd years as someone with moderately severe eczema:

1. Nobody has said much about topical corticosteroids, but they are incredibly effective if used correctly. I use an ointment rather than a cream, because I know that every single water-based product I've tried had made my eczema worse. It's important to continue use after the patch of eczema disappears - this avoids what a lot of people seem to think of as a 'rebound' effect. Also, apply other potions after applying the steroid, not before.

2. Allergy medication can certainly help, as eczema seems to be worsened by allergens (although they're not the cause).

3. Emollients, not moisturisers. If you can get Oilatum bath oil (available in Europe, but not, I think, the US), it's worth trying. It's basically just a liquid paraffin that you add to your bath. It forms an emulsion that coats the skin to prevent dryness. Works really well. Other emollients are available as creams and lotions. If, on the other hand, you do find water-based moisturisers effective, look for big tubs of 'aqueous cream' - you may have to ask your pharmacist; it's incredibly cheap, has few ingredients, and works better than almost any branded product.

4. Diet - wheat makes no difference to me. But two things do make my eczema much worse: nuts and dairy products. Butter and peanuts, specifically, are the two worse culprits. It may be worth taking one or two dietary supplements to improve your skin's general health (have a chat with your doctor, not the person in the health food shop).

5. Avoid soaps. Wear rubber gloves (or another sort if allergic) when washing dishes. Set your washing machine to do the longest rinse it can. Avoid fabric conditioner and dryer sheets. Avoid excessive hand-washing, even with so-called 'moisturising' soaps. Try to find soap-free shower and washing products, and then minimise their use - only lather the 'smelly' areas of the body - most of the body will do just fine if it only gets washed with warm water. 'Unscented' means very little - most eczema sufferers react to the drying effect of detergents, not the perfume or colour.

6. Temperature - keeping cool and fairly dry is good. Repeated exposure to water dries the skin (paradoxically).

7. Prevention is better than the cure - always be aware of dryness. Dry skin is the precursor to eczema. Apply an emollient twice a day, religiously, and always within a few minutes of bathing or showering.

8. Stress and sleep. Stress seems to make eczema worse, as does a lack of sleep. Caffeine probably doesn't help.

9. Dust. Keep your home spotlessly dust-free. Dust mite fæces seems to be a factor in a lot of eczema. An uncluttered home with a minimum of carpets, rugs and dust-attracting surfaces is the best thing. Wash all bedding at a high temperature once a week if possible.

10. Scratching leads to itching. Itching leads to scratching. If you can break this cycle, the eczema will go away. Keep nails short. Find other ways to reduce itching - applying ice or very cold water, for example. Try to ignore the itch - most itches will go away by themselves quite quickly; your first reaction is probably to scratch or rub the itchy area, but learning to delay that as much as possible will definitely help.
posted by pipeski at 3:09 AM on February 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

Use hydrocortisone cream for the worst of it.

I put washed facecloths in the freezer and then apply them to the itchiest parts of my face to help soothe and avoid scratching. I slather my face in sorbolene cream until it feels like I'm encased in an creamy mass and put up with that for a while and then apply frozen facewashers again to take it off.

Don't use the hydrocortisone cream too often because it will make your skin even more sensitive; you need to use it when it's got so bad that other creams aren't touching it and then stop as soon as it starts to get better.
posted by h00py at 3:30 AM on February 12, 2013

What works for me:
- Use shea butter (as Fig suggested).
- Give up all alcohol.
posted by londongeezer at 3:43 AM on February 12, 2013

Son and granddaughter both allergic to dairy resulting in eczema. My son was so sensitive to dairy that I could tell within minutes if he had ice cream or the like. Also, the eczema sometimes can become infected with fungus or yeast resulting in a big flare up. If it is worse than usual, might need to have it scraped for that, which requires different treatment. I don't know if its still available, but we used Burrough's solution from a compounding pharmacy and it gave him some relief.
posted by tamitang at 4:07 AM on February 12, 2013

Also doctor recommended Dial gold soap only and Tide detergent. I found any variance from those two caused problems.
posted by tamitang at 4:09 AM on February 12, 2013

I've done/used most of the above suggestions with varying degrees of success. Last year after a Dermatologist visit, they gave me the usual bag of samples of creams etc. to try. Not expecting much, I was very, very surprised at the improvement after using Aveenno Exzema Therapy Moisturizing Cream. None of the many other Aveeno creams and potions gave me the same results. I've had trouble finding this in some drug stores when traveling, so I order three at a time from Amazon to get free shipping. Read the reviews on Amazon.

I hope you get the same benefit that I experienced.
posted by ScotsLament at 4:23 AM on February 12, 2013

Your partner should keep an eczema diary.

Rate every day one to three stars. One star is a day better than the day before, three stars is a day worse than the day before, and two stars is "about the same".

Write down in the diary what they ate that day. Be specific, down to ingredients. Do not write down "vegetable oil", write down what kind of oil(s). If the product isn't specific (many cheaper snack foods do not specify), don't eat it, this is really important. Note that this makes eating at some restaurants difficult. Choose places with simple ingredients if you eat out frequently.

Also write down other things that might be relevant. Perfume or cosmetics. Medications taken. What kinds of fabrics touched the skin. Was laundry done. What skin products were used. How much sun exposure.

Also write down emotional stressors, perhaps just simplified as mood: good, fair, bad. Also note where she is in her menstrual cycle.

If there's something she does generally do or eat every day (like have toast, or drink milk), be sure to change that up: go a week without, and see how that affects.

Do this diary keeping for a month. Look for patterns in the stars, correlating with things written in the diary the previous day or two. Then start cutting out things that correlate more strongly with three star (bad) days. Keep the diary for more months.

Yes I know it is a colossal pain in the arse to keep a diary. (There are some smartphone apps that can help though, you can use food trackers that allow you to enter your own items: add lines for clothing, cosmetics, soaps, etc.)

This is, more or less, how I have managed to control my diet-related skin sensitivities, by more-or-less diligently monitoring everything I put in (or on) my body and paying attention to how it makes me react. My diary is in my head now and when I get a flare-up I look back over the last day or two and think: "hmm, what did I do differently?" and then I can learn something from that.

I wish it was easier. I wish we could just hook our bodies up to an "engine analyzer" which would describe exactly what the problem is. The next best thing is creating a diary of correlation.

Good luck to her!
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:50 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Have you tried sulfur soap or cream? You can get both over the counter, and I have a friend whose eczema got so much better after she started washing with that.
posted by punchtothehead at 5:33 AM on February 12, 2013

Lots of good advice above, here's just a note about Vaseline: If you rub it on wet skin it absorbs MUCH better, and doesn't have that drying effect when it wears off.
posted by glasseyes at 5:38 AM on February 12, 2013

I just completed an elimination diet to determine what I was allergic to. I was absolutely SHOCKED at the results.

I had been experiencing digestive problems and rashes for so long, I thought that was normal.

The diet was a PITA to do, but I hung in there. Here's what I discovered that I'm sensitive to:


Color me astounded. I'm 50 and I had been feeling run-down, blah and foggy for about a decade. Thought it was aging.

Chocolate was responsible for the rash. Eggs and Wheat were responsible for the unpredicable colon. (good times)

I've eliminated these foods from my diet and I feel a bazillion times better and my itchiness has cleared up.

It costs nothing to do an elimination diet, and it will catch sensitivities that full scale food alergy testing may not. (I had been tested for Celiac, and I don't have that.)

Just a thought.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:33 AM on February 12, 2013

Nthing allergy testing for your partner, and maybe trying an elimination diet to discover if there's any food triggers? My eczema is caused by a wheat allergy, and flares within about 12 hours of eating wheat. If you consider allergy testing, be aware that skin testing isn't necessarily always accurate and can be affected by certain medications (according to the allergist I saw). It wasn't effective for me because I was an SSRI at the time, and I had a blood test that was confirmed with getting rid of wheat in my diet. Good luck!
posted by snowysoul at 6:33 AM on February 12, 2013

I only write from my own experience having had what I consider extreme eczema (to the point of raw, weeping skin) for a couple of years a while back, but would advise:

- Normal advice applies: get lots of sleep, eat well and avoid processed foods, be active. Get properly tested for allergies. Although I should add allergy tests conducted by a dermatologist did not yield the magic answers for me.

- Don't go about changing everything all at once. I changed from feather to non-feather pillows, changed my diet, my detergent and several other things. With each one I was sure that I was eliminating something problematic and got frustrated when perceived improvements proved temporary or didn't come. If you want to go down the route of cutting things out, do so systematically and one at a time or it's not much better than hocus pocus.

- That said, alcohol and cigarettes are not an eczema sufferer's friend, and neither are the obvious things like heavily scented cosmetics, creams etc.

- There are lots of good advice for nonallergenic emollients and whatnot, but I also found that smothering my skin with stuff, however benign or moisturising, was part of the problem. That is not to say dry skin is preferable, but at a certain point when one's skin is irritated, even the most benign stuff can also be irritating.

- As were changes of temperature. Especially hot showers. And the whole business of thick clothing. I just wanted my skin to be able to breathe and felt like someone was boiling chilis under my skin. I would have gladly have been peeled alive or undergone leech therapy.

- The single best thing I found was getting out into the sun (as opposed to just UV treatment). It's obviously a relatively expensive option if you fly off somewhere. But for me, getting some winter sun and having some time not covered in lots of clothes and not in the dry indoors and not going from hot rooms to cold outside all made a huge difference. So did swimming in the (warm) sea. Enough of a difference that a week in the sun could basically tide me through winter. If you can afford somewhere with dry heat, go for it.

- To reinforce what pipeski says upthread, breaking the cycle is what brings relief. Once I did that, the next winter after my worst attack I got mild eczema, and the winter after that none at all. Everything else - topical steroids, emollients, anti-histamines, changes of diet and lifestyle and elimination of irritants and possible allergens either made modest or no difference in my case.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:40 AM on February 12, 2013

Like a lot of people are saying, eczema seems to be a bit tricky. I have found my base-level symptoms reduced by using evening primrose oil (even the NIH says it might help). I take about 2500 mg.
posted by shothotbot at 8:00 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Adding to the suggestions for shea butter. While I've never been diagnosed with eczema, I do get terribly itchy in the winter when my skin gets dry, and nothing ever seems to work. I just started experimenting with shea butter, and judging by my annoying itching today, when I didn't bother to apply it after my shower, it seems to be working.

Because shea butter by itself is on the hard side, I found instructions for making your own body butter. Take 1 lb of shea butter and an equal amount of coconut oil (or half that amount of oils like jojoba that are not semi-solid at room temperature). Melt them together in a double boiler, then stir thoroughly to combine. Let sit until room temperature and semi-solid--I let it sit overnight. Take a mixer and whip it until it changes color to white, then whip it until it's a consistency you like. Stick in container, apply after shower as needed.

I did find that I can't use it on my face, as I'm getting more breakouts right now and I think it might be this stuff, but on the rest of my body seems to be fine. It also tends to be a bit oily on my skin after I apply it, but I keep a small towel to buff myself off after applying, before I get dressed.

Results for me: almost no itching, and very soft skin.
posted by telophase at 8:29 AM on February 12, 2013

Does she take vitamins? Vitamin D is (usually) derived from lanolin, so she may be unintentionally dosing herself with more lanolin. Also, with a lanolin allergy, even though you may be tempted to go with all-natural fibers, you should probably avoid wool (though you can test that theory to be sure).
posted by freezer cake at 9:00 AM on February 12, 2013

I suffered from eczema (on my scalp, around my nose and mouth, in my armpits, etc.) for years and years. It was awful. I did two things that brought complete relief. First, I corrected a chronic vitamin D deficiency (taking at least 2000 IU of vitamin D a day for months; it is not a coincidence that eczema is often helped by sun exposure) and second, I started taking fish oil.

Eczema is a variable affliction, but the evidence that unsaturated fatty acid deficiencies play a role here is mounting.

The interesting thing, for me, is that the fish oil took many months before it really started to work. When a deficiency has been chronic, it takes a long time to exchange defective tissues which have been formed in a depleted environment. Bodies aren't built overnight, and a deficiency state that develops over months and years isn't going to be corrected in hours or days.

Things already felt much better after only a few weeks, which is how I knew this was the right track; many months later, the problem was completely gone, and it has not returned since. It's now been seven years.

As somebody who tried to fix this with elimination diets, I have to say that I no longer think that eczema is principally an allergic problem, even though the two are so often associated. If the body is reacting that strongly to every little thing, then something is fundamentally wrong.

Our current diets are woefully low in fats overall, and certainly grossly deficient in omega 3 unsaturates. Elimination diets reduce the already small chance one is getting enough of those even more.
posted by rhombus at 10:32 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also found relief from unrefined shea butter. It has humectant (attracts moisture from the atmosphere) and emoillient properties, and some studies show an anti-inflammatory action. It's easiest to apply after a luke-warm shower onto fairly damp skin. My eczema is worsened by soap and detergents, but I can counteract that by liberal application of good moisturizers, and using good soap ('Ennui' is fragrance free).

Has she tried Cetaphil Restoraderm? I believe the creams such as Restoraderm that contain ceramides are a relatively new thing and some people find them to be more effective.

Wow, Cetaphil finally made a product that actually has good stuff in it: shea butter, niacinamide, and allantoin are all healing to skin conditions. Hydroxypalmitoyl Sphinganine is the ceramide. You can also buy ceramides to add to you own cream.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:45 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have eczema on my hands that I've treated successfully with steroid cream, but I'm currently pregnant and can't use it during the pregnancy (it also thins the skins so I tried to use it sparingly even before). Thick cream has worked best for me, though it's not as effective as the steroid cream. I use, surprisingly, a Bath and Body Works cream - True Blue Super Softening Hand Lotion with paraffin. Sometimes the sugar scrub from the same line can help a bit too to slough off dead, itchy skin. I've also just started using Aveeno's eczema cream, which works ok, but doesn't really get at the rough spots.

Possibilities that I haven't tried:
- I have a prescription for EpiCeram, which is a non-steroid cream for eczema, but it's EXPENSIVE and my drug plan doesn't cover it
- Champori cream might be my next option

Things I have tried that haven't worked:
- George's Cream -- too light and whipped to be substantial
- Vaseline with gloves over it -- only softens the parts aren't ezcema-y
- paraffin wax hand dips

YMMV. As you can tell, I've only really tried topical solutions.
posted by pised at 5:01 PM on February 12, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you so much for the thoughtful, kind answers here. I can tell this is a problem that afflicts a lot of people- and you taking the time to answer our query makes us feel that we are not alone.

We are going to employ many of the suggestions here- not all at once of course, but in measured, recorded ways. We feel that there is hope again, and like I said before- that we're not alone. Thanks so much Hivemind. You're the best.
posted by timpanogos at 8:46 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a prescription for EpiCeram, which is a non-steroid cream for eczema, but it's EXPENSIVE and my drug plan doesn't cover it

I looked at the ingredients for this (you can find them listed alphabetically, but not proportionally, which is sneaky and annoying), and I'm not seeing anything really special in it. There are ceramides (Hydroxypropyl Bispalmitamide MEA ); fatty acids (such as those found in coconut oil, flax oil, and goat's milk, though not necessarily derived from those sources); some basic esters, thickeners, and emollients; and preservatives in a base of water and petroleum jelly. I think it's silly that they've managed to get the FDA to require a prescription for something with no active ingredients and are charging so much for it. You could try the Cetaphil Restoraderm moisturizer that Dansaman mentioned upthread, as it also has a ceramide and is much cheaper. Or you could buy the ceramides I mentioned and add them to another lotion you like.

Also George's Cream is basically water and petrolatum with sodium lauryl sulfate and preservatives. I'm not surprised it didn't work for you if Vaseline did not! :)
posted by oneirodynia at 8:56 PM on February 12, 2013

Cutting out gluten and wheat has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. Excema mostly gone, bloating gone, energy up, weight down, etc. etc.

Try it for a month! Also, I did allergy testing and stuff and they can be rather inconclusive....
posted by rumbles at 9:42 PM on February 12, 2013

Side note on dealing with immediate eczema itch aka I am going to rake my skin off right now and I don't even care because ITCH and oh that's what raw meat looks like. Targeted cold is amazing for dealing with that.

I keep small ice packs (think about the size of a ~1/2" stack of index cards) in both my main freezer and a small freezer in my bedroom for this purpose. I had a few years when my eczema was truly horrible... When I would have a really bad flareup it could itch so bad I would weep to think of how long a cream might take to affect it, and my panic would often lead to particularly freaked-out scratching to the point of removing serious skin. But slapping a (lightly wrapped) ice pack on the affected area for a bit nips the itch sensation right in the bud - ensuring I had several handy around the house helped get me over the panic hump and more rationally go and put on some lotion. Breaking that itch/scratch cycle was super key for me letting my skin start to heal up more long term.

(I also keep my lotion in the fridge, because the coolness when applying it helps, and have been known to surreptitiously napkin-palm ice cubes to soothe itchy fingers when out and about)
posted by laeren at 11:51 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are you sure that it's eczema and not psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis? Does she have any joint pain? Topical cremes won't help psoriatic arthritis because it's an autoimmune disorder requiring injections to treat.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:30 AM on February 15, 2013

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