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What exactly is eczema — and how do I cure itchiness?

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Best itch-relieving treatments to control eczema flare-ups.
Control eczema flare-ups with these itch-relieving treatments.

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It’s fair for many people to associate eczema with dry winter air, but the truth is many people live with the skin condition all year round. My eczema flare-ups are at their worst in the fall and with October being the official month for eczema awareness, below, I’ve broken down everything you need to know about it and how to effectively beat the itch.

So, what exactly is eczema?

Also known as dermatitis, eczema is a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin’s moisture barrier that causes patches of dryness, itchiness and irritation anywhere on the skin; commonly found around the mouth, bends of arms, and backs of knees.

A weak functioning moisture barrier can allow bacteria to grow and enter the body causing bacterial infections on the skin. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema, and is closely linked with asthma and allergies and affects both children and adults, usually running in families. While eczema isn’t contagious, many people can develop eczema during adulthood from allergies and frequent contact with water and chemicals. “Flare-ups can be prompted by environmental elements or “triggers” such as certain soaps, clothing fabrics, deodorants, carpet fibres, dust, and others,” according to the Eczema Society of Canada.

A weak functioning moisture barrier can allow bacteria to grow and enter the body causing bacterial infections on the skin.
A weak functioning moisture barrier can allow bacteria to grow and enter the body causing bacterial infections on the skin (Getty Images).

“Sometimes a flare-up will occur, however, with no discernible trigger. Overheating, excessive sweating, low humidity, certain foods and stress can also contribute to flare-ups,” they explain. “When the skin becomes irritated by any one of these irritants, it itches, causing the sufferer to scratch the affected area.”

To treat eczema, the goal is to recover the skin’s barrier with frequent moisturizing. To help you out, we’ve gathered a list of our five favourite itch-relieving, hydrating creams and lotions to help control the itch-scratch cycle.

Glaxal Base Colloidal Oatmeal + Aloe Cream

Glaxal Base Colloidal Oatmeal + Aloe Cream
Glaxal Base Colloidal Oatmeal + Aloe Cream

Formulated with sensitive, eczema-prone skin in mind, this rich, non-greasy moisturizer is designed to restore lost moisture while relieving dry and itchy skin.

SHOP IT: Amazon, $16

Gold Bond Ultimate Eczema Relief Skin Protectant Lotion

Gold Bond Ultimate Eczema Relief Skin Protectant Lotion
Gold Bond Ultimate Eczema Relief Skin Protectant Lotion

Clinically proven to restore the look of smooth and healthy skin in just four weeks, this body lotion is made with a blend of nourishing vitamins A, C, and E and colloidal oatmeal to help relieve itchiness, rough patches and irritation.

SHOP IT: Shoppers Drug Mart, $18

Aveeno Baby Eczema Creamy Wash with Colloidal Oatmeal

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This body wash contains Active Naturals Colloidal Oatmeal and rich emollients, which soothe and relieve dry skin. The creamy wash leaves skin feeling moisturized for 24 hours, so your baby’s skin looks and feels healthy.

SHOP IT: Amazon, $10

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

This tried-and-true moisturizing cream contains essential ceramides to replenish and restore the skin’s barrier function while keeping the skin hydrated. Not only great for treating eczema, but this cream is also designed to treat other conditions associated with skin barrier deficiencies like psoriasis and rosacea.

SHOP IT: Amazon, $35

Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Nourishing Balm

Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Nourishing Balm
Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Nourishing Balm

Best for relieving itchiness, this body moisturizer biologically strengthens the skin’s barrier to protect it from irritants and keeps the water in the upper layer of the skin from evaporating into the environment.

SHOP IT: Amazon, $26


Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

A mild, soap-free formula that cleanses without irritation, it protects the skin’s natural protective oils and natural pH to moisturize and soothe sensitive skin as it cleans. It is designed for the body and face, and gentle enough for baby’s delicate skin.

SHOP IT: Amazon, $16

A-Derma Exomega Control Lotion

A-Derma Exomega Control Lotion
A-Derma Exomega Control Lotion

Great for the body and face, this lotion was formulated to space out the cycle of eczema flare-ups. Even for an emollient lotion, its fluid texture is designed for moderately dry skin and light enough for comfort during warmer seasons.

SHOP IT: beautyBOUTIQUE, $33

Skinfix Extra Strength Body Cream

Skinfix Extra Strength Body Cream
Skinfix Extra Strength Body Cream

Tested by dermatologists, this rich all-over moisturizing body cream temporarily protects and helps relieve minor skin irritations and itching due to eczema, rash, and dermatitis.

SHOP IT: Sephora, $45

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+M

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+M
La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+M


For extremely dry skin and itchy skin, this new paraben- and fragrance-free balm restores the skin’s lipid production and soothes irritation. This one is specifically designed to treat atopy-prone skin.

SHOP IT: La Roche-Posay, $34

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