Lotion Ingredients To Watch Out For If You Have Eczema

Eczema can cause many unpleasant symptoms, including increased skin sensitivity. While frequently moisturizing can help reduce eczema flare ups, many common ingredients found in over-the-counter lotions can make eczema worse.

Potential irritants can cause inflammation, flare-ups, or even allergic reactions in eczema sufferers. Everyone’s skin is different, of course, so you should talk to a dermatologist about the best skin care routine for you if you suffer from eczema. However, below we can offer some guidelines about what to watch out for if you have eczema.


While it can be tempting to invest in a lotion with a pleasant smell, fragrances are notoriously harsh for those with sensitive skin. Fragrances are a very common skin allergen, even for people without eczema. For eczema sufferers, the effects can be even worse.

Fragrances can cause itchiness, flare-ups, and redness if you have eczema. Look for products marked “safe for sensitive skin” or “fragrance free” to limit your exposure to potential irritants.

Essential Oils

While often touted as a natural solution for all sorts of skin ailments, essential oils are a surprisingly common skin irritant. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not necessarily a safe alternative to artificial additives when it comes to created scented lotions.

This is especially true for those with conditions like eczema whose skin is already extra sensitive to irritants.

Lotion for eczema

Some anecdotal evidence suggests essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, and jojoba help with eczema when properly diluted. However, they have also been known to cause adverse side effects. If you do use lotions with essential oils, monitor your skin carefully afterwards. If you notice signs of an eczema flare-up, there’s a good chance that essential oils are the culprit.

Botanical Oils

Another supposedly safe substitute for artificial ingredients, botanical oils can definitely create enticing scents. However, for those with eczema, they can also yield unpleasant reactions like itchiness, irritation, or flare-ups.

Natural ingredients are not always better than chemical ones, especially if you already have a skin condition. Herbal ingredients – rose oil, vanilla oil, and almond oil in particular – can be irritants for those with eczema.

Chemical or Physical Exfoliators

While many find regularly exfoliating helps with eczema and sensitive skin in general, not all exfoliators are created equal. Many exfoliating lotions contain both physical and chemical irritants.

Chemical exfoliators include Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), which go by names like salicylic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid.

Lotion for eczema

Physical exfoliators – while more frequently found in body wash than lotion – include things like beads, scrubs, and other textured cleansers.

If you’re going to exfoliate with eczema, make sure you avoid these ingredients and monitor your skin closely before and after the solution.


Often used as a preservative in lotion, ethanol can be incredibly harsh on sensitive skin. If you have eczema, it can cause your skin to burn or dry out, especially in sensitive areas. It’s recommended those with eczema avoid ethanol, as they can cause or exacerbate eczema.

Alcohols in skin care ingredients are often listed toward the bottom of the label, where it’s easy to miss. Make sure to read ingredient labels carefully – especially with gel-like lotions – to ensure they’re free of ethanol.

Propylene Glycol

While it is a popular addition to many common moisturizers, propylene glycol is one of the most common skin irritants. In fact, it was named the Allergen of the Year in 2018 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. If you have eczema, you’re all the more likely to be negatively affected by propylene glycol.

Propylene glycol is not just found in lotion. It’s in many skincare products like cosmetics and is occasionally even used in eczema-specific moisturizers. While it has positive effects for some, propylene glycol should be used with extreme caution by those with eczema.


Retinoids have anti-aging properties and are often used on acne. However, they tend to worsen symptoms of eczema. In fact, they’ve been known to trigger flare-ups.

If you have eczema, be careful to avoid retinoids. Like many other common lotion ingredients, retinoids are found in many other skincare products, so always read ingredient labels closely.


Sulfates are one of the most common cleaning agents, but they’re also a well-known irritant. Sulfates can dry out skin and cause itchiness for anyone, but are even more likely to cause problems for people with eczema.

Sulfates, like many other irritants, aren’t just found in lotion either. Keep an eye out for sulfates in everything from soap to shampoo to toothpaste to laundry detergents. If you have eczema, hidden sources of sulfates can cause or worsen flare-ups.

What Should I Look For In Lotion?

By now, you’ve probably gathered the less ingredients the better when it comes to lotions for eczema. Artificial ingredients tend to cause the most trouble, but keep in mind natural additives like essential and botanical oils are also bad news for those with eczema.

Beyond avoiding certain ingredients, oil content is also important. If you have eczema, you want to opt for lotions and moisturizers with higher oil contents. Ointments and creams, in fact, may work better than lotions as they tend to have more oil.

If you’re looking for a safe safe solution for eczema, we recommend Delfina Dry Skin Oil. 

Delfina Dry Skin Oil is made from natural products and has effectively helped many patients manage eczema flare-ups. It is also a spray-on oil, so it is not greasy or messy like many oil-based products.

You can read about how Delfina Dry Skin oil helped other eczema patients here, and learn more about how it works here.

The Bottom Line

Eczema can be a source of discomfort and pain, so we understand that finding an effective solution option is important. While over-the-counter lotions and moisturizers often help with temporary relief, many also contain ingredients that make symptoms worse in the long run.

If you’re looking for an over-the-counter product for eczema, look for oil-based ointments and creams with minimal artificial ingredients. Everyone’s skin is different, so finding the right product for you may take some trial and error. Be patient and, eventually, you should find something that helps.

If you have any questions about Delfina Dry Skin Oil or eczema solution options, we are always here to help. Feel free to reach out for more information.