For those of you with eczema finding a moisturiser that WORKS is sometimes confusing. With so many brands to choose from how do you know if it will work?
Well there are 3 key ingredients that need to be in a cream to effectively repair the skin barrier. Ceramides, Cholesterol and Fatty Acids. Not only does it need all of these but they also need to be in the right proportions, being a 1:1:3 ratio.
So why does the skin of an eczema sufferer have so much trouble repairing itself?
Well it all comes down to genetics. Eczema sufferers have a mutation in the gene called Fillagrin. Fillagrin provides moisture and is an essential component of restoring the skin barrier. Eczema sufferers only have one copy of this gene, instead of two.
Dr Su (Royal Children’s Hospital – Melbourne) was involved with ground breaking research on eczema. Dr Su discovered that a defective skin barrier was the primary cause of eczema. Dr Su discovered that eczema sufferers have tiny cracks in the skin barrier predispose some people to eczema, allowing irritants to penetrate and set off an inflammatory cascade.
People prone to eczema have a much thinner skin barrier than people with normal skin and this can be seen under a microscope, even if they do not have obvious eczema lesions. This is why daily application of a moisturiser containing the 3 key ingredients is vital, because genetically eczema sufferers don’t have a normal skin.
So what are you looking for on a label?
Fatty Acids – these are a normal part of vegetable oils. Oils such as sunflower oil have been shown to repair the skin barrier. Hemp seed oil has also been shown to be of benefit to eczema sufferers, particularly because of the high proportion of Omega 3 fatty acids in it. Echium Oil is another oil high in Omega 3 which has anti-inflammatory properties on eczema skins. Ideally the oils that you are looking for should be high in Omega 3 and Omega 6 and low in Oleic Acid (Omega 9). Oleic Acid has been shown to disrupt the skin barrier.
Ceramides – Ceramides are an integral part of the skin barrier repair process. These are usually listed on a label as Ceramide 1, Ceramide 3, Phytosphingosine, Ceramide 6. These are just some examples.
Another ingredient to watch for is Niacinamide which when applied topically allows the skin to naturally produce it’s own ceramides. On top of that Niacinamide has anti-histamine properties, which will help with itching and redness.
Cholesterol – Yes it may be bad for your arteries but it is essential for your skin. What are you looking for on the label? It will usually be listed as Cholesterol or another derivative such as C10-30 Cholesterol/Lanosterol.
These 3 ingredients will repair the skin barrier. Do you have any questions about eczema…feel free to email us a firstname.lastname@example.org and ask. We’ll be happy to answer your queries.