Cream for Eczema Relief May Make It Worse
Cream for Eczema Relief May Make It WorseThe latest results from the University of Bath suggests that one of the most commonly prescribed creams for the treatment of eczema in the UK may actually be doing more harm than good.
Eczema is an extreme case of dry skin and inflammation that is believed to caused by a defect in the immune system. When the skin gets too dry, it losses its flexibility and becomes itchy, cracked, scaly, crusty, and discolored. Frequent bathing can make the condition worse.
Soap, hot water, and scrubbing can remove the natural layer of oil and lipids at the skin’s surface which help maintain moisture. The use of certain detergents, soaps, and deodorants can also be drying to the skin and cause the condition to worsen.
Doctors typically prescribe moisturizers to help the skin retain water and to relieve some of the symptoms of eczema. Aqueous cream BP, one of the most commonly prescribed products, is a light, non-greasy moisturizer that adds a layer of oil to the skin and prevents water from evaporating. The product is often used as a lip balm, moisturizer, and a wash product to replace soaps and shower gel.
Researchers, led by Richard Guy at the University of Bath, have found that the cream contains the detergent sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), which is known to irritate the skin and may cause the skin’s protective layer, known as the stratum corneum (SC), to thin. As the thickness of this layer decreases, its ability to help the skin stay moist is also reduced.
In his study, six healthy volunteers were asked to rub Aqueous cream BP on their left arm everyday for four weeks. The right arm was not exposed to any product containing SLS during the study. After four weeks, water loss and SC thickness were measured on both arms. In the arm treated with Aqueous cream BP, both the SC thickness and the skin’s ability to retain moisture decreased significantly when compared to the untreated arm.
Scientist expect that for people who have skin conditions such as eczma, where the skin has already thinned and has a decreased ability to maintain moisture, water loss could be greater with use of the BP cream. Even though the cream is supposed to help eczema sufferers keep their skin moist, it is possible that using the cream would make their problems even worse.