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When you have eczema, you think twice before using any product that will come in contact with your skin. Experience has taught you that the wrong hand soap, facial cleanser, or bodywash can intensify eczema symptoms.

With eczema, your skin has a hard time protecting itself from the environment. The wrong product can dry or inflame your skin. When you wash, you need a soap that will clean your skin without causing irritation.

Finding a soap or cleanser that works for you has a number of challenges, including:

  • Skin changes. The effectiveness of the product can change as the condition of your skin changes.
  • Product changes. It’s not unusual for a manufacturer to periodically change product formulations.
  • Recommendations. What works for one person may not work for you.

While some recommendations may not work for you, it’s still a sound idea to tap into the vast knowledge of your doctor, dermatologist and pharmacist for suggestions and detailed information.

One place to start your search is checking product labels and descriptions. Some of the things to look for include:

  • Allergens. Make sure you’re not allergic to any of the ingredients.
  • pH. Look for pH balanced formulas. Generally stay away from alkaline soaps. They can impair skin barrier function by increasing the skin’s pH.
  • Harsh cleansers and detergents. Look for mild, gentle cleansers that don’t damage the skin’s natural moisturizing factors.
  • Deodorant. Avoid deodorant soaps, they typically have added scents that can irritate sensitive skin.
  • Fragrance. Look for fragrance-free or scent-free soaps. Fragrance can be an allergen.
  • Dye. Look for dye-free soaps. Dye can be an allergen.
  • Third party endorsement. Look for endorsements from organizations such as The National Eczema Association (NEA) Seal of Acceptance. The NEA evaluates and recognizes products that are suitable for care of eczema or sensitive-skin.
  • Industrial. Avoid industrial cleansers, they commonly contain strong or abrasive ingredients, such as petroleum distillates or pumice, which are very rough on skin.

Once you’ve made your selection, test it before you use. Take a small amount of the product and apply it to the crook of your elbow or your wrist. Leave the area unwashed for a couple of days, watching for redness, itchiness, flaking, rash, pain, or any sort of allergic reaction.

Finding the best soap or cleanser for eczema is really about finding the best soap or cleanser for YOUR eczema. What’s best for someone else might not be right for you. Although the search might have some frustrations, discovering a soap that can clean your skin without irritating your eczema is worth it.