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28 Mar 2024

Living with eczema can present challenges, particularly when it comes to skincare.

An essential strategy if you suffer from this condition is to be careful about the products you expose your skin to — as they can play a pivotal role in either soothing the skin or triggering eczema flare-ups.

At La Roche-Posay, we offer trusted guidance to help you make sense of the complex realm of skincare ingredients and their potential impacts on eczema.

Understanding What Eczema Is

Eczema refers to a group of conditions that cause irritated or inflamed skin or is alternatively referred to as atopic dermatitis or contact dermatitis, a chronic skin condition that affects people of all ages. The condition often causes red, itchy and inflamed skin, which can become dry, scaly and even cracked in more severe cases. People with this condition often experience long periods of calm, symptom-free skin, followed by sudden flare-ups.

But what exactly is a flare-up? Well, eczema flare-ups are instances where symptoms surge, intensifying skin discomfort and leading to itchiness, redness, soreness or possible temporary thickening of the skin.

Because eczema is unique to every individual, learning about your specific triggers can help you manage the condition.

The Link Between Eczema and Triggers

When you live with eczema, understanding your potential triggers is essential in minimizing flare-ups and maintaining healthier skin.

Some common eczema trigger can be an irritant, an allergen, or environmental factor that can provoke a flare-up, causing eczema symptoms to worsen. Everyone's triggers are unique, but they share the common trait of disrupting the delicate balance needed to keep eczema in check.

Some of the most common triggers are:

  • Skincare ingredients, such as fragrances, preservatives and dyes
  • Climate factors, including temperature changes, humidity and harsh weather
  • Environmental allergens, like pollen, dust mites and pet dander
  • Certain fabrics, particularly synthetic materials and rough materials
  • Stress, including emotional stress, can sometimes lead to or exacerbate eczema symptoms
  • Food allergens, like dairy, eggs or nuts
Identifying and avoiding these triggers is essential in managing eczema and reducing the frequency and intensity of flare-ups.

Common Ingredients to Avoid for Eczema

Primary causes of eczema symptoms often lurk in topical skincare products, in the ingredients themselves.

Understanding and identifying potential triggers in the form of skincare ingredients can help you create a personalized skincare regimen that mitigates the chances of a flare-up.

Let's delve into the details of some of the most common ingredients that you may want to steer clear of:

Fragrances and Perfumes

Fragrances are often present in various skincare products, including moisturizers, creams, body washes and even deodorants. While they may provide a pleasing scent, synthetic or heavily fragrant components can cause irritation and trigger an eczema flare-up.

These fragrances can cause skin sensitivity or an allergic reaction, leading to potential flare-ups. If this is a concern and you have eczema-prone skin, you should opt for fragrance-free skincare products.


Sulfates, such as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), are found in many cleansers, soaps, body washes and toothpaste. They serve as surfactants that help efficiently remove dirt, oil and impurities.

However, sulfates can disrupt the skin's natural oil balance, stripping it of its essential moisture and causing dryness — which can potentially cause eczema flare-ups. Look for sulfate-free products to protect and gently cleanse your skin's surface.


Certain types of alcohol, such as isopropyl, denatured and ethanol, are often used in skincare products like toners for their quick-drying properties. While they may offer temporary relief from excess oil, they can ultimately dehydrate the skin.

This dehydration can cause dryness, tightening and itchiness, all of which are known to provoke eczema symptoms. Avoid alcohol-based products and choose those with hydrating ingredients instead.


Parabens are a group of preservatives, such as methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben, often added to skincare products like lotions, creams and sunscreens.

They protect the product from microbes, extending its longevity. However, they can irritate sensitive and eczema-prone skin. Choosing paraben-free products may help alleviate eczema irritation.

Synthetic Colors and Dyes

Synthetic colors and dyes are used in skincare products to make them visually appealing, often listed as "FD&C" or "D&C" followed by a color and number.

These chemical colorants can irritate sensitive skin and may trigger eczema-prone skin. Opt for products free from synthetic colors and dyes, prioritizing the gentleness and effectiveness of ingredients over cosmetic appeal.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol is a humectant found in moisturizers, serums and creams. It works by helping the skin retain moisture.

However, in some individuals with eczema, it can cause irritation and disrupt the skin's moisture balance, contributing to flare-ups. Products with natural humectants, like glycerin, can be better alternatives.


Lanolin is a type of fat derived from sheep's wool. It is often used in creams and ointments because of its emollient and moisturizing properties.

While lanolin can relieve some dry skin conditions, it might also be a potential allergen, provoking eczema flare-ups in some people. Choosing lanolin-free skincare products can help prevent such reactions.

How to Find Eczema-safe Skincare Products

Finding skincare products that work for you while living with eczema can seem challenging.

However, the goal is clear — to avoid products that aggravate your skin but rather find ones that soothe and restore it. Here are some steps that can guide you to find skincare for eczema:

Reading and Understanding Ingredient Labels

Ingredient labels on skincare products might seem like they're written in another language but understanding them is crucial for people dealing with eczema.

Identify the elements your skin reacts negatively to and ensure they are not on the label. Also, look for ingredients beneficial for eczema-prone skin, such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which help hydrate and reinforce the skin barrier.

A rule of thumb is to lean towards products with fewer ingredients — less is more when it comes to eczema-prone skin.

Seeking Professional Advice

When in doubt, consult professionals. Dermatologists, in particular, have a wealth of knowledge and experience dealing with eczema and other skin conditions. They can guide you based on your skin's needs and history.

Also, consider getting allergies tested. Many people with eczema have underlying allergies that they may not be aware of, and recognizing these can be a significant step toward finding skincare products that will not trigger a flare-up.

Exploring Trusted Skincare Brands

The National Eczema Association's (NEA) Seal of Acceptance™ is a trusted mark that helps shoppers identify skincare products suitable for those with eczema or sensitive skin. The Seal signifies that a product is free from ingredients on the Ecz-clusion List and has undergone rigorous testing and scientific review for sensitivity, irritation, and toxicity. The NEA's goal is to help consumers find eczema-friendly products and to encourage manufacturers to create products free of known allergens and irritants.

La Roche-Posay offers a variety of products that have earned the NEA Seal of Acceptance™.

The Lipikar Eczema Cream is a targeted cream for eczema on the face, body, and hands, providing instant and long-lasting hydration. It is enriched with a high concentration of La Roche-Posay Prebiotic Thermal Water and other key ingredients and is clinically shown to relieve itchy, irritated skin and reduce the signs of eczema.

Another product, the Lipikar Wash AP+, is a gentle moisturizing body and face wash suitable for dry to extra dry skin. This non-stripping wash provides 24-hour hydration starting in the shower, leaving skin feeling moisturized and instantly soothed. Remember, what works for one person may not work for another. Be patient with your skin and the process — and you will discover what helps your skin feel its best.

Manage Eczema with Tips From La Roche-Posay

Skincare is not a luxury — it's a necessity. And it becomes even more critical when you have a skin condition like eczema. Understanding the complex array of skincare ingredients that can cause eczema flare-ups can feel overwhelming, but remember that you are not alone in this journey.

At La Roche-Posay, we understand the complexities of eczema and will help you get the right skincare products for your particular condition. Each product is specially formulated to help soothe, nourish, and protect your skin with some products formulated with your eczema symptoms in mind.

Learn more about managing eczema and find skincare products suitable for eczema and dry skin.


On the same topic

Eczema is an extremely common skin condition. Understanding the triggers and available treatment options is key for relieving the associated symptoms including dryness, itching, and redness.

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