Eczema affects up to one in five children, causing dry, irritated, and inflamed skin. A British children’s study found no difference in how well eczema responds to lotions, creams, ointments, or gels. However, some experts argue that certain moisturizers work better on different skin types and parts of the body. Eczema refers to a spectrum of noncontagious skin conditions that trigger itchiness, inflammation, and discomfort. It typically develops in the first year of lifeTrusted Source.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type that affects up to 20% of children.
Moisturizers, also known as emollients, may help treat symptoms, act as barriers to irritants, and reduce inflammation. These products are recommended or prescribed for soothing skin and preventing flare-ups, along with anti-inflammatories such as topical corticosteroids.
Research showing which moisturizer is best for eczema in children has been extremely limited. A trial in the United Kingdom is thought to be the first of its kind to compare the effectiveness of four main types of moisturizers: lotions, ointments, creams, and gels. Dr. Matthew Ridd, the study lead from the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol in the U.K., says: “A study of this type has been long overdue […]. Our findings challenge conventions about how often moisturizers need to be applied, which types are less likely to cause problems and which patients should be recommended certain types […].”
The study’s results appear in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health and the British Journal of General Practice.
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Dr. Ridd and fellow researchers searched electronic medical records, then they screened and invited the parents or guardians of “potentially eligible children” to take part in their trial. After assessing over 12,000 children, 550 participated. The children were aged between 6 months and 12 years.
Subjects were randomly assigned to use one of the four types of emollients. The children’s family doctor prescribed the moisturizers with directions to “apply twice daily and as required.”
Parents reported their observations weekly for 16 weeks and followed up every four weeks until 52 weeks.