Best Soaps For Eczema Dematologist
The Best Soaps For Eczema, According To A Derm

Gentle cleansers that won’t disrupt your natural skin barrier.

Originally Published: 
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While there are several types of eczema, and cases can range in severity, eczema is a fairly common skin issue affecting just over 31 million Americans, according to the National Eczema Association. To help determine the best soaps for eczema, a dermatologist is here to explain the basics. Symptoms and triggers can certainly vary, but in addition to stress, one of the most common causes of eczema's itchy, red patches is simply washing your skin — or more specifically, what you're washing your skin with.

The Expert

Loretta Ciraldo MD, FAAD is a dermatologist and the founder of her eponymous skin care line, Dr. Loretta. She has over 40 years of experience in the industry and has created products that have won awards such as Allure’s Best of Beauty and Refinery 29’s Beauty Innovator.

What To Look For In An Eczema-Friendly Soap

"Avoid sodium, ammonium lauryl, or laureth sulfate," Dr. Loretta says of sulfates in general, which give soaps their foaming abilities, but are also known irritants. "Artificial color and artificial fragrance can also exacerbate eczema," she says of other common offenders. Once you've checked the ingredient label for these irritants, Dr. Loretta says that it's important to make your soap does contain moisturizers. Since dry skin can make eczema worse, gentle hydrating ingredients, and even some essential oils, like chamomile and lavender (Dr. Loretta's favorites), are necessary to prevent skin from feeling stripped and tight.

In addition to being choosey with your soap, Dr. Loretta says how you wash your skin can also help prevent flare-ups and calm current ones. "Bathe or shower in tepid/room temperature water, only until your fingertips are looking wrinkled. This means you've maximally rehydrated your skin," she explains of the importance of not having prolonged contact with water. "Pat your skin dry and apply a barrier product like CeraVe, Eucerin, or Lubriderm to the skin while it is still damp." This will help lock in moisture and strengthen your skin while keeping it protected from future irritation.

Shop The Best Soaps For Eczema

In a hurry? Here are the top picks for gentle soaps that won’t irritate eczema.

  1. Tie: Best Bar Soap For Eczema: Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar
  2. Tie: Best Bar Soap For Eczema: Vanicream Cleansing Bar
  3. Best Face Wash For Eczema: Avène Eau Thermale Cleansing Foam
  4. Best Body Soap For Eczema: SheaMoisture African Black Soap Eczema Therapy Bar Soap
  5. Best Body Wash For Eczema: Cetaphil Pro Soothing Wash
  6. Best Hand Soap For Eczema: Vanicream Liquid Cleanser
  7. Best Body Oil For Eczema: Bioderma Atoderm Cleansing Oil

Whether you're in need of a gentle face cleanser, body wash, or even hand soap, these are seven of the best soaps for eczema to give a try.

Tie: Best Bar Soap For Eczema
  • Also available at CVS, $11

The classic bar soap in a sensitive skin-friendly formula gets Dr. Loretta's top pick for patients with eczema. "It's not loaded with potentially sensitizing foaming agents or artificial color or fragrance," she says of the Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar. The fragrance-free and hypoallergenic formula still includes Dove's ¼ moisturizing cream to keep eczema-prone skin moisturized, helping to eliminate flare-ups that are caused by dry skin. Another reason Dr. Loretta likes this Dove soap for her patients is because it's affordable.

One reviewer wrote: “Recommended by my dermatologist for sensitive skin. Works great!!! No more dry patches! Eczema is gone with combination of Cetaphil cream.”

Tie: Best Bar Soap For Eczema

Another bar soap that can be used on your face, Vanicream's Cleansing Bar is even accepted by the National Eczema Association. Using the brand's cream as a moisturizing base, the dermatologist-tested soap is free from irritants like dyes, fragrance, lanolin, parabens, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde releasers. Gentle enough to be used on skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and ichthyosis, the soap works into a rich lather while still being non-comedogenic, so you don't have to worry about it clogging your pores and causing acne.

One reviewer wrote: “I have been having a terrible time with eczema for the past 15 months and my dermatologist recommended that I try Vanicream products; I didn’t have much hope that it would make it go away but I bought the soap, shampoo, hair gel and face wash and my eczema is completely gone. I love this company.”

Best Face Wash For Eczema

If you're looking for a cleanser that's tough enough to remove makeup but won't cause your skin to dry out, Avène Eau Thermale cleansing foam is a gentle, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic option. Even though it’s free of soap, it still effectively removes makeup without stripping the skin or altering the natural pH. It also prevents the production of excess oil with lactic acid and soothes irritation with thermal spring water.

One reviewer wrote: “My skin is very sensitive and I've really enjoyed the gentle cleansing effect of this product. It leaves my skin feeling clean and fresh without drying it out.”

Best Body Soap For Eczema

This SheaMoisture bar soap was specifically designed for eczema-prone skin. Moisturizing ingredients like shea butter are combined with soothing ingredients like oatmeal, aloe, charcoal, and rosemary, which can help heal the symptoms of eczema while keeping future flare-ups at bay. It's important to note that this bar soap does include fragrance (in the form of essential oils) in its ingredient list, so if you have a known sensitivity, stay away — but many Amazon reviewers still give it the seal of approval for eczema.

One reviewer wrote: “I was using a popular brand of soap that was supposed to be good for eczema but made it worse. I tried this because I was desperately itching. It worked! Yes it's black and leaves a wonderful light oil residue! Probably the Shea butter!? It's much better than the dry itchy skin keeping me awake all night.”

Best Body Wash For Eczema
  • Also available at CVS, $21

Another National Eczema Association-approved option, Cetaphil's Pro Soothing Wash (formerly know as the Pro RestoraDerm Gentle Body Wash) is gentle enough to be used by babies as young as three months. The soap-free formula uses a filaggrin complex to create a creamy lather that leaves skin clean without stripping it of its natural oils. Ingredients like shea butter, sunflower seed oil, and niacinamide help soothe dryness and strengthen the skin's natural protective barrier to keep future flare-ups at bay.

One reviewer wrote: “This stuff worked wonders when our baby was suffering from eczema. It worked better than anything except Rx hormone creams, which we rarely had to use for flair ups thanks to this wash. We probably don't need to anymore, but still use it 3 years later out of habit.”

Best Hand Soap For Eczema

Hands are one of the most common areas on the body where eczema occurs, and because you wash your hands throughout the day, finding a soap that won't exacerbate the condition is important. While most household hand soaps contain fragrances that can be particularly irritating, the Vanicream Liquid Cleanser (formerly known as Free & Clear) was designed with skin sensitivities in mind. The liquid soap is dermatologist-tested and can be used on your hands, face, and body. It's sulfate-free and betaine-free, in addition to being free of common chemical irritants like dyes, fragrance, lanolin, parabens, and formaldehyde/formaldehyde releasers. Plus, it comes in a traditional pump bottle, so it's easy to use and refill.

One reviewer wrote: “I love this product!! I have really bad eczema on my hands and this product helped! I’ve been looking for something that worked for my itchy dry flaky hands and within one week even my family noticed a huge changed on my hands.”

Best Body Oil For Eczema

This Bioderma Atoderm Cleansing Oil might just be the most luxurious way to pamper sensitive skin. The cleansing oil is formulated with plant biolipids, like coconut and sunflower ester, to soothe dry, itchy skin and strengthen its barrier. Bioderma also uses a patented formula with seaweed extract to increase the skin's tolerance threshold while decreasing its reactivity and improving impermeability against aggressors like pollution and allergens. The soap-free and hypoallergenic oil still creates a creamy lather that provides skin with 24 hours of hydration without leaving behind a greasy film, and despite it containing fragrance, customers with eczema-prone skin swear by it.

One reviewer wrote: “I was in the middle of an eczema breakout that covered both legs and was spreading on my arms - this product and the lotion that goes along with it were recommended to me by my dermatologist to get my skin under control. After maybe 5 days of use all of my breakouts had almost entirely stopped itching and were beginning to clear up. I haven’t had a flair up or break out in 6 months apart from one that was my own fault; this product got that back under control in no time.”

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