If you have eczema, then you've likely found that choosing a body wash at random can be disastrous. Choose poorly and you could end up with red, itchy skin.
It's true: your skin-care products — along with cold weather or environmental allergies — can exacerbate eczema, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "Eczema is a condition where the skin barrier is not working as well as it should be working," says Dr. Zeichner. "When that happens, you develop microscopic cracks in the outer skin layer, lose hydration, and the skin becomes inflamed." With the skin barrier in this compromised state, those environmental factors (e.g. your body wash) can make symptoms worse. "Eczema is usually caused by a genetic weakness in the skin barrier," says Dr. Zeichner. "However, environmental factors can make eczema worse or lead to new cases."
As for how that relates to the best body washes for eczema, it's good practice to steer clear of products containing fragrances, essential oils, and harsh exfoliating ingredients such as microbeads or strong acids (e.g. glycolic or salicylic acid), says Purvisha Patel, M.D., dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare. Exfoliating products can make matters worse if your skin is inflamed, she says. (Related: Eczema Shampoo Options That'll Keep Your Skin Happy and Healthy)
At the same time, you can look for ingredients that can help reinforce your compromised skin barrier. "Good ingredients to look out for include ceramides, glycerin, and other lipophilic [fat soluble] agents, which act like cement and help heal the cracks in the skin barrier and restore moisture," says Dr. Patel. She name-checks colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, and goat's milk as additional ingredients to look for.
Got all that? With those factors in mind, here are several contenders for the best body wash for eczema-prone skin.
The Best Body Wash for Anyone with Eczema
The Honest Company Eczema Soothing Therapy Body Wash
Formulated especially for people who are eczema-prone, this body wash from The Honest Company combines colloidal oatmeal, glycerin, and moisturizing coconut oil. The product was formulated to be gentle enough for babies, so you can feel free to share it with your little one. This body cleanser for eczema has received the National Eczema Association (NEA) Seal of Acceptance, meaning it's free of ingredients the NEA has listed as irritants to eczema-prone or sensitive skin.
Dionis Goat Milk Unscented Bar Soap
"Goat's Milk works well on eczema and itchy, dry skin, as it helps soothe the skin and repair the barrier," explains Dr. Patel. Chalk it up to the fatty acids in goat milk, which can provide those cement-like effects Dr. Patel mentioned earlier. Goat milk also has a pH close to that of your skin's natural pH. (The further products are from skin's natural pH of 5.5, the more likely they are to be irritating.) If you prefer bar soap to body wash, you can try this bar which combines goat milk with glycerin and shea butter to moisturize skin.
Dove Irritation Care Body Wash for Sensitive Skin
Dr. Patel suggests going with a fragrance-free body wash from Dove. This option was formulated specifically with eczema- and redness-prone skin in mind. The thick and creamy formula gently cleanses while moisturizing skin with the brand's Moisture Renew Blend, a blend of ingredients designed to boost skin's natural ceramide production. Plus, it's the most affordable option on this list.
Cetaphil Restoraderm Soothing Wash
Another of Dr. Patel's recs, this creamy bodywash is part of Cetaphil's Restoraderm line which is designed especially for eczema-prone skin. It incorporates the brand's Filaggrin Technology designed to restore your skin's filaggrin breakdown products. (Filaggrin is a protein that plays a role in skin barrier function, and atopic dermatits — a common form of eczema — has been associated with a mutation of the filaggrin gene. When that gene is functioning normally, filiggrin is broken down into filiggrin breakdown products, which help keep skin hydrated.)
Exederm Body Wash
As stated on the bottle, Exederm created its body wash with really sensitive skin in mind. That means no harsh cleansing ingredients (e.g. sulfates), fragrances, or dyes. It's so gentle, you can even feel free to use it on your face, according to the brand. (Related: Everything You Need to Know About Eczema, According to Derms)
CeraVe Soothing Body Wash
Dr. Patel also suggests this CeraVe eczema body wash. The fragrance-free body wash is intended for skin that's prone to eczema or otherwise extremely dry. Like CeraVe's other products, it contains a blend of ceramides to help reinforce the skin barrier. Castor oil and cholesterol offer additional moisturizing benefits.
Vanicream Gentle Body Wash
Vanicream makes another body wash targeted at the super-senitive crowd. You won't find fragrances, essential oils, harsh cleansers, or dyes in this formula, which has received the NEA Seal of Acceptance. It contains glycerin and panthenol, another moisturizing ingredient. (Related: The Best Eczema Cream, According to Dermatologists)
Gladskin Body Wash
With its products, Gladskin makes the skin's microbiome a priority. (Using harsh soaps might strip away the "good bacteria" of your skin's microbiome. Research suggests people with eczema have a lack in diversity of bacteria within their skin microbiome.) The brand's eczema body wash contains only four ingredients — two of which are water and glycerin —so if you like to cross-check ILs for potential irritants, it won't take you long.
La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+ Wash
La Roche-Posay's Lipikar AP+ Wash is intended to keep dry or extra-dry skin moisturized all day. You can use it on your face or body, and it's gentle enough for babies and children. The formula contains shea butter and glycerin as well as niacinamide, a skin-care ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties.