Skin Barrier Repair For Eczema: All of The Ingredients You Need To Succeed

Eczema is a type of skin condition commonly characterized by dry, itchy, and red skin. 

Not only does it cause physical discomfort, but emotional concerns as well.

It can be caused by a variety of reasons including both genetic and environmental causes. The irritation experienced can make it difficult for people to comfortably live their lives, especially if it’s on the face or other visible areas of the body.

Arm with eczema

One of the main underlying causes of eczema involves a damaged skin barrier. Often, eczema sufferers will have a compromised barrier that causes a loss of moisture. This leads to dry and dehydrated skin, which presents itself as redness and flaky skin. The good news is that you can repair a damaged skin barrier, which can significantly improve your eczema symptoms.

And the best part? You can achieve this by simply adding skincare products into your routine that contain ingredients that work to improve your skin.

The internet will tell you that you need to have a good skincare routine, moisturize, and take care of your skin. But in reality, a lot of people are unaware of exactly what type of ingredients they need to moisturize with, how they need to take care of their skin, and lastly, how to even formulate a gentle skincare routine. 

Let’s get into detail about each of these topics to get you on the right track to repair your skin barrier and improve your eczema.

The Role of Filaggrin

In order to heal the skin, it is important to understand the important role of filaggrin in supporting the skin barrier. Filaggrin is a protein that is present in the outer layer of your skin. It is heavily involved in the structure of the skin barrier.

It binds to keratin filaments and creates a sturdy structure to reduce transepidermal loss, aid in wound healing, and works to create a strong barrier against external stressors.

It also keeps inflammation and dryness at bay. Often, people suffering from eczema will have a mutation in the filaggrin gene. This can cause a disruption of the skin’s outer barrier. For an in-depth explanation, find out exactly what filaggrin does and how you can incorporate it into your routine.

Filaggrin can be found in a variety of skincare products, particularly by Cetaphil. Through topical application of this ingredient, the filaggrin protein and precursors can penetrate into the skin barrier and provide structural support to your skin in times of need.

What Ingredients To Look For in a Serum and Moisturizer 

Serum dropper with serum for eczema

There are thousands of face and body serums and moisturizers on the market today. They all differ in terms of their formulation, consistency, and value. 

It can be complicated to figure out which type of moisturizer is best suited for your skin.

When it comes to eczema, the number one recommendation is to use a gentle moisturizer, preferably with minimal ingredients, that contains specific substances to repair the skin barrier. Let’s dive into the best ingredients to look for in order to heal your eczema for good.

Humectants

Humectants can be typically found in serums. They can pull water from the external environment and help your skin to hold onto more water. The sneaky thing about humectants is that they can also dry out your skin. Let me explain.

Humectants have the ability to pull water either out of the skin or out of the environment.

When you are using a humectant, such as hyaluronic acid, you need to top this ingredient with a heavier lotion or moisturizing cream. This helps to retain water in the skin.

If you do not top hyaluronic acid with a heavier lotion, then this humectant will end up drying #3a3a3ayour skin out and possibly causing dehydration by pulling water out of your skin and into the open environment.

Barrier-Repairing Ingredients

Skincare ingredient cream swatches for eczema

There are many ingredients available over the counter that have a significant impact on the skin and how it functions. The following is a short list of barrier-repairing ingredients that you can find in a moisturizer to help heal eczema.

• Niacinamide

Niacinamide is a type of B vitamin that can be found in a variety of lotions, creams and serums. It has a great ability to effectively penetrate the skin’s outer layer, delivering its exceptional properties to the skin.

These properties include reducing inflammation, speeding up wound healing, preventing water loss, and even increasing collagen production and skin hydration.

• Allantoin

Allantoin is a moisturizing plant-based ingredient that provides hydration to the skin. It soothes itchy and dry skin and is well-tolerated amongst most individuals. It also has wound healing properties.

• Shea Butter

Shea butter is a type of emollient that softens skin cells once applied to the skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties, increases hydration, prevents transepidermal water loss, and is also very soothing.

It has a thick consistency, which helps to protect the skin’s moisture barrier. It is also great to use as the last step in your skincare routine at night time, as the thick consistency locks in moisture.

• Ceramides

Ceramide capsules

Ceramides are a type of fatty acid that plays a large role in ensuring that the skin barrier is correctly structured, sturdy, and hydrated. Ceramides can be found in a variety of skin care products available over the counter. Once on the skin, it can penetrate the outer layer and soften skin cells.

Ceramides lock in moisture, and make up a significant amount of our fatty acid layer in the outer layer of our skin.

It contributes to the healthy functioning of the skin which improves its ability to fight against environmental pollutants, UV damage, and other external stressors.

• Jojoba Oil

While jojoba oil is not really an oil (it is a wax ester), many people are afraid to use oils on their skin in fear that it will break them out or clog their pores. Jojoba oil has been found to be very similar to our skin’s natural sebum production. Therefore, once applied to the skin, it can help protect the skin’s barrier and provide moisture and prevent skin dryness.

It has wound healing properties and has been shown to have a positive effect on the skin’s moisture barrier.
Jojoba oil has been found to be very similar to our skin’s natural sebum production. Therefore, once applied to the skin, it can help protect the skin’s barrier and provide moisture and prevent skin dryness.

It has wound healing properties and has been shown to have a positive effect on the skin’s moisture barrier.

For an extensive list of what to look for in a moisturizer, you can read this blog post that I made compiling a list of ingredients to look for.

How To Formulate a Gentle Skincare Routine

Skincare routine for eczema

1. Find a gentle cleanser.

A gentle cleanser is usually in the form of a lotion or cream cleanser. Sometimes, the label on the front of the cleanser bottle will specify that it is a gentle foaming cleanser. You want to make sure that your cleanser does not include any added fragrance, essential oils, or large amounts of alcohol content.

These will all irritate the skin, potentially cause contact dermatitis, and leave your skin dehydrated. Look for gentle surfactants, such as cocamidopropyl betaine.

2. Cleanse once per day.

While this may not work for everyone, it is best to cleanse the skin less often. In fact, every time the skin makes contact with water, it loses water content, and can become dry as the pH of the skin is temporarily altered. While it is extremely important to cleanse the skin, cleansing the skin once per day at night is sufficient. 

By cleansing the skin once per day, the skin is able to use its natural oils to keep it moisturized and prevent dehydration.

3. Incorporate skin-barrier ingredients into your routine.

As mentioned above, you have to formulate a skincare routine that includes the barrier repairing ingredients listed above. While it doesn’t have to include all of those ingredients, it should include, at least, hyaluronic acid along with one of the other ingredients listed.

You should use a gentle cleanser, followed by a hyaluronic acid serum, top this with a rich moisturizer, and add in sunscreen only in the morning. You can read further information about how to properly use hyaluronic acid here.

General Tips To Care For Eczema-Prone Skin

• Always Use Warm Water

While it is tempting to take a hot shower after a long day, hot water increases transepidermal water loss in the skin. It causes skin dryness and further irritates eczema. It is important to only use warm water when showering, washing your face, and washing your hands. This will help to prevent redness, inflammation, irritation, and excessive flaking of the skin.

• Avoid Using Towels To Dry The Skin

Towels are often abrasive on the skin. By rubbing or tugging at the skin, it increases redness and irritation. It is best to either pat the skin dry after showering, or to let the skin air dry if possible. This will help to prevent excess inflammation due to physical friction.

• Frequently Change Clothing, Pillowcases, and Bedding

Sometimes eczema can be triggered by laundry detergent, dust, or bacteria left on clothing, pillowcases, and bedsheets. When these items are not changed often, you can further cause flaking and inflammation on the skin.

References

Levin J, Momin SB. How much do we really know about our favorite cosmeceutical ingredients? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010 Feb;3(2):22-41. PMID: 20725560; PMCID: PMC2921764.

Nemeth V, Evans J. Eczema. [Updated 2022 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet].

Paller AS, Browning J, Nikolic M, Bodemer C, Murrell DF, Lenon W, Krusinska E, Reha A, Lagast H, Barth JA; ESSENCE Study Group. Efficacy and tolerability of the investigational topical cream SD-101 (6% allantoin) in patients with epidermolysis bullosa: a phase 3, randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial (ESSENCE study). Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2020 Jun 23;15(1):158. doi: 10.1186/s13023-020-01419-3. PMID: 32576219; PMCID: PMC7310548.

Sethi A, Kaur T, Malhotra SK, Gambhir ML. Moisturizers: The Slippery Road. Indian J Dermatol. 2016 May-Jun;61(3):279-87. doi: 10.4103/0019-5154.182427. PMID: 27293248; PMCID: PMC4885180.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *