Skin care products for eczema - are any particularly pampering?
December 12, 2006 6:30 PM   Subscribe

What are some nice, pampering products for someone who suffers from eczema?

I'd like to buy a gift for someone who suffers from eczema and is also in need of some serious pampering. I'm thinking some of the products from Kiehls - specifically the Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, the Ultimate Men's After Shave Balm, and the Non-detergent cleanser They all seem, at first glance, to be nice, soothing products -- to me, that is, someone who's never had eczema. But a little bit of web research tells me that everyone's triggers are different, and that even vitamins in a skin product can sometimes cause the condition to get worse. Vitamins and natural oils are the special ingredients in these Kiehls products - well, in any luxury product, really. Causing a flare-up is obviously *not* what I'm trying to accomplish by this gift!

So, is this a gift that's nice in theory, but not possible to execute properly without knowing the specifics of his eczema(which, for the record, I don't think he even knows)? Is there anything else that I could give him along these lines?

Thanks in advance, hive mind.
posted by AthenaPolias to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How about a nice, soft, cotton robe?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:05 PM on December 12, 2006

Jersey cotton sheets is the first thing that came to mind. I seriously needed them when I was having problems-- regular cotton felt like sandpaper and flannel sheets were only a little bit better than that.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:17 PM on December 12, 2006

Not a product, but what about a certificate for a massage? I don't have eczema, but rather psoriasis, and I know it's really good to get some caring, non-judgemental touch. You haven't said how serious his condition is, but I know first-hand that skin diseases really affect your self-esteem.

As far as products go, I'd stay away from detergents, petroleum ingredients, and strong scents.
posted by loiseau at 7:19 PM on December 12, 2006

I just noticed your title and you're looking for skincare products-- shame on me for not reading carefully. But if you don't know what he's allergic to, don't get him anything to put on his skin. Every single toiletry that I've ever been given that I didn't already use has been handed off to a friend or thrown out. Folks with severe eczema need to be consistent, especially if the causes aren't known.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:28 PM on December 12, 2006

Major Curley - these products that you passed on, were they given to you specifically with your eczema in mind? If the products I mentioned here seem to be a poor idea, I've found another (less froofy, but what can ya do) product that might be helpful: a salve developed specifically for a child with eczema, by PurePotions UK. I know my friend uses a steroid cream already, but I think that's all he does by way of actual treatment. That's part of the reason I'd like to give this particular kind of gift -- it's both a thoughtful gesture and a nudge in the right direction. (hopefully!)
posted by AthenaPolias at 7:35 PM on December 12, 2006

This is thoughtful, but from long experience with my dad's eczema, I think it's not going to work out well. Eczema is so unpredictable that it's just begging for trouble to get a skin potion for him, and most luxurious products will have triggering ingredients. Soft bedsheets or a robe might be a safer bet.

If you want to try, you might try Aveeno (moisturizer) or Cetaphil (liquid cleanser and moisturizer). They're not luxury products, should be available at most pharmacies. Both lines have been recommended for my dad over time.

Here are a few articles that might be useful, from a woman who rates different cosmetics and skin care products. (She also sells her own line, which I've never tried; her products are linked on some of these pages. I have no idea if they're any good and am not recommending them. Her other info seems to be good, though.)
- About eczema
- About moisturizers, what ingredients to seek or avoid.
- Choosing gentle skin care products.
- Her review of dozens of different moisturizers, including some Kiehl's products.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:48 PM on December 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

Note: I wasn't trying to be snarky in the first comment there, I meant my suggestion. I've got skin issues shall we say and am the son of a man with skin issues including, but not limited to, eczema. Receivng "products" is a common thing for us from many well meaning people and trust me, we know you do mean well, but really certain things, even those specifically listed as being for eczema or other skin conditions can be just plain torture. They end up, as Mayor Curley said, handed off or tossed.

Please, let us and our dermatologists search for the right products. A nice robe or sheets would be very pampering, far more practical and would be much more likely to be used for a good long time. Sorry if I came off snarky, I was trying to help both of you.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:13 PM on December 12, 2006

Yes, what other people said. It's so unpredictable and personal. When my eczema was at it's worst, higher levels of water in certain products would make them too irritating! Seriously, yes to vaseline, no to aqueous ointment. Even now it's better, I'm fine with L'Oreal acid peels, but bought some 'sensitive skin' Aveda cream cleanser I can't use. I don't think they make luxury steroid cream yet!

What I would have really loved when it was at its worst was a set of slinky machine washable soft cotton jersey PJs, with no tags or seams. Make sure any clothing or sheets you get are super washable, because mine would get all gunked up with creams.
posted by crabintheocean at 8:27 PM on December 12, 2006

That pure potions site looks amazing. I have eczema, and a mild form of ichthyosis runs in my family, so oy vavoy do I know skin sensitivity issues. In this case I believe that what you should give is (This Is Why God Invented The) Lush Gift Certificate. Your friend will be able to choose something lovely, with no trigger ingredients.
posted by Sara Anne at 8:29 PM on December 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

no snark perceived at all, Pollomacho, don't worry! And thanks for the extra (and helpful) explanation.
posted by AthenaPolias at 8:53 PM on December 12, 2006

Lush is not necessarily fine at all. Given that certificate, I'd have re-gifted! I'd even go for Aveda, Clinique, or Kiehls before I'd go there. Their stuff smells awesome, but it's nothing like as 'hypoallergenic' as they'd have you believe, and 'hypoallergenic' might not be enough, eczema is so personal and unpredictable.
posted by crabintheocean at 9:50 PM on December 12, 2006

Wow. I guess I really like the words 'unpredictable' and 'personal'!
posted by crabintheocean at 9:51 PM on December 12, 2006

I've personally found that "smells good" is almost 100% correlated to "six days of horrible rashes". Fragrance of any kind is a no-no for me. And yes, despite what the "natural" people will tell you, "natural" fragrances can be just as bad, and sometimes worse.

It looks like everything at Lush is heavily scented, often with multiple fragrances, and the fragrances are unexpectedly high on the ingredient lists. It doesn't look like their products would be very good for someone with a skin infection.

I agree that a nice cotton robe or towel set might be a better choice.
posted by watsondog at 7:31 AM on December 13, 2006

I should also add that "luxury" items are among the worst for triggering eczema, because they usually have more ingredients than the cheap plain stuff and they're often so heavily fragranced. They also often contain products derived from food, which means that they often have more preservatives (and, of course, may also trigger a food allergy).
posted by watsondog at 7:36 AM on December 13, 2006

100% pure Emu oil is great for eczema. You could also make up some 'Oatmeal - Milk Bath" which is great for soothing the itch - 2 Cups Powdered milk, 2 Cups Oatmeal (ground up in your mixer or food processor), and 1 Cup Corn Starch or Baking Soda.
posted by LadyBonita at 8:56 AM on December 13, 2006

A nice soothing tube of a very potent corticosteroid. Seriously, when I couldn't find my tube of betamethasone dipropionate, I got a script for something weaker (triamcinolone, maybe?), and it did fuck all for me.

See what med they use and where it is on this list. If it's not something in the "very potent" section and they have any desire to reduce their symptoms, paying for a visit to their doctor to kick that up a notch will do infinitely more than any sort of off-the-shelf product. This is not a subtle difference. One site claims betamethasone is 600x as potent as hydrocortisone, for example.
posted by trevyn at 4:52 PM on December 13, 2006

I'd like to temper what trevyn said by warning that potent steroids have potent side effects, and the ideal is to use the mildest formulation that still addresses the rash. Also, sometimes switching to a different formulation can be an improvement, even if it is listed as weaker. Different people respond differently to the various chemicals.

Emu oil would be a good gift, since it is hard to find, and somewhat expensive.
posted by markhu at 8:35 PM on October 14, 2007

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