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Colin Solves Your Problems 12: Moisturizer for Eczema

Hi Colin,

I found your blog while doing research to find the most effective and safe OTC moisturizers for my son’s eczema.

I was so happy to find an informative, scientific yet understandable blog that I’ve spent an hour reading through your posts. Thank you very much for all the work you do, keep the posts coming!

Anyway, I’ve come across studies showing urea and ceramides are beneficial in helping restore the moisture barrier in eczema sufferers.

Right now, I’ve started using Aveeno Eczema Care cream (which has ceramides) on my son, and it along with a herbal cream and Live Clean non-petroleum jelly are keeping his flares under control. The Aveeno, however, does not contain urea.

So I was wondering: Will I see a better effect if I used a cream with both ceramides and urea?

Not easy to find as those I’ve seen online are mostly in European countries. The closest I’ve found here in Canada is Excipial Lipolition with urea and lipids, but I’ve yet to confirm if the lipids include ceramides.

Thanks in advance for your attention to my question.

All the best,

Lexi

Hello Lexi and thanks for your query and your kind words.

You have asked quite a lot of questions there so I’ll be brief in each reply, although there is quite a bit more that could be said. First of all, urea. Urea is very popular in Germany and seems to work very well though I have only very limited experience of it myself. It seems to work as a humectant in a similar way to glycerol. Ceramides are part of the skin’s barrier function and it has been shown that ceramide levels are very low in dry skin. It does seem reasonable to think that adding extra ceramides ought to be helpful. I haven’t seen any really convincing evidence that they actually work the way they are supposed to do. The argument that suppliers of these materials make is that you have to use exactly the right kind of formulation to get them to absort intot the skin in exactly the right way. I am open to being persuaded but I don’t think there is any convincing published study to back up the idea at the moment. I think a review of where we are with ceramides sounds like a good topic for a future blog post.

But just because their benefits haven’t yet been shown doesn’t mean those benefits don’t exist, so if you have a problem they might solve it would seem to be worth giving them a try. Just bear in mind that if they are going to work you should see some benefit pretty quickly, certainly within a week. If they aren’t doing anything switch products.

There is another approach altogether, which is to add something to the skin that stimulates ceramide production. I got interested in an oatmeal fraction that a group in San Diego were looking at a few years back that seemed to do something like that. But I haven’t heard anything about it for a while so it may have proved a dead end. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18277662 was the paper if you want to look into it further.)

As to combining urea and ceramides, they ought to work very well together. They both work in different ways so they should work well together. I’m afraid I don’t know anything about that Canadian product you mention. Let me know how you get on with it if you try it.

All the best,

Colin.

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