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Remedies for eczema vary quite a bit, from moisturizing creams to emollients, antihistamines to antibiotics. There are so many options that it can be hard to find the right one. But Mustela is here to help you save time and find the right remedy for your baby’s eczema on the first try.

What is that ideal, natural remedy? In a word, emollients. They are the best way to treat and prevent your baby’s eczema without a prescription.

But what exactly are emollients? This article will show you why emollients are so unique and how they will benefit your baby’s skin.

baby sleeping without discomfort

What Are Emollients?

Emollients are moisturizers, often in the form of creams, lotions, gels, or ointments, that soften skin and protect it from damage. Emollient products are nothing new—they’ve been used in the skincare industry for quite some time.

It’s actually this widespread use that has led to much of the confusion that surrounds them. Many hear the word ‘emollient’ and automatically think that it’s just a more scientific name for a moisturizer. That’s the first mistake.

While emollients do indeed moisturize the skin, they also do so much more.

The best emollient products, like our Stelatopia line, contain gentle yet powerful ingredients, including occlusives, humectants, and lubricants. We know these may be unfamiliar words, so here is an example of each and how they help eczema-prone skin.

  • Occlusives, like cocoa butter, form a layer of oil and water (a hydrolipidic barrier) on the surface of the skin to slow down moisture loss and protect sensitive skin from irritating allergens.
  • Humectants, like glycerin, absorb water from their surroundings (the skin and the air around it) and keep it close to the top layer of skin, where it can provide the greatest benefit.
  • Lubricants, as their name implies, make skin more “slippery” and help prevent clothing, blankets, and even a gentle tickle from causing an eczema flare-up.

So now that you know what emollients are, let’s investigate their benefits to see why they are the best treatment for your baby’s atopic dermatitis.

Benefits Of Emollients For Baby Eczema

Emollients Can Be Used From Birth Onward

mother applying emollient to eczema-prone skin

Emollient products are safe enough that they can be used even on the first day your baby is born. They’re also powerful enough that they can be used every day thereafter to prevent flare-ups from appearing and to treat them when they do.

In fact, applying an emollient product twice a day can reduce the risk of an eczema outbreak by 33 to 50%. This could be a huge benefit to your baby’s well-being. They’ll be happier without the tight, itchy, swollen skin...and you’ll be happier too!

Emollients Heal Your Baby’s Skin

One of the most exciting things about treating your baby’s skin with an emollient product is that it actually works to help their skin heal itself. Over time, skin treated with an emollient will be able to produce its own hydrolipidic barrier again.

That doesn’t mean that your baby’s eczema will be completely cured—eczema is a genetic condition, after all—but it does mean that the symptoms will be less frequent.

With daily emollient treatment, your baby’s skin will regain its impermeability. This means it’s less likely that allergens like dust, pollen, dander, scratchy fabrics, and even high temperatures will irritate your baby’s skin, trigger an immune system response, or cause an eczema flare-up.

Emollients Are Safe For Even The Most Sensitive Skin

one of the benefits of baby eczema emollients is a happy baby

When your baby is first born, their skin is not yet fully developed. It takes a few years for it to reach the same maturity as an adult’s skin. So their skin will be particularly sensitive to eczema triggers like harsh soaps, hot water, and stress (like that from teething).

In fact, until your baby is three years old, their skin will have the following characteristics:

  • The pH (the measure of acidity or basicity) will hover around 7 (neutral). This means that it can’t protect itself from allergens like adult skin (which is normally more acidic at a pH of 5).
  • The stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin) is more fragile and prone to damage.
  • The dermis (the middle layer of skin between the hypodermis and epidermis) is three times thinner than an adult’s.

All of this taken together means that your baby’s skin needs extra attention to keep it healthy and functioning properly.

It also means that you need to be extra careful when choosing a baby-specific emollient formula to ensure that the product doesn’t contain ingredients that will irritate your baby’s fragile skin.

Emollient products for adults are often formulated for skin that has a more acidic pH, more robust stratum corneum, and thicker dermis. Emollients like that shouldn’t be used for babies and young children.

That’s where specially designed emollient products, like our Stelatopia Emollient Cream, can be most beneficial. They help protect your baby’s sensitive, developing skin and keep their eczema from flaring up.

Expert tip: Try Mustela's Stelatopia Skin Soothing Pajamas in combination with our Stelatopia Emollient Cream for your little one with eczema-prone skin.

Made with natural ingredients, these pajamas soothe and protect baby's skin while they sleep. That means less itching and a better night's rest.

How do these pajamas work? They use microcapsule technology to treat your baby’s skin to soothing moisturization throughout the night.

Each microcapsule contains five natural ingredients: avocado oil, sunflower oil distillate, squalane, ceramides, and vitamin E.

Avocado oil works to maintain the skin's moisture barrier while sunflower oil distillate, known for its soothing properties, replenishes the skin with needed lipids.

These ingredients are activated when they come in contact with the skin, so if you decide to put your baby in layers, they should wear these pajamas as the bottom layer.

Plus, Stelatopia Skin Soothing Pajamas are made with OEKO-TEK® certified cotton, which is free of any allergens or potentially harmful substances.

Emollients Are Especially Useful When It Comes To Water

Kids playing next to Mustela skin products with emollients

Even things you might not consider—like lukewarm bathwater and fresh lake water—can trigger an eczema flare-up. This is because even the “cleanest” water often contains dissolved minerals and traces of chlorine, compounds that can trigger an eczema flare-up.

Seawater is especially notorious for causing flare-ups because of the high levels of dissolved salt.

But this doesn’t mean your baby can’t enjoy a quick splash in the bath or an extra-long romp in the ocean. It just means that you need to use an emollient on your baby after venturing into the water with them.

Emollients And Bathtime

For bath time, always remember to apply an emollient to your little one’s skin after drying them off. And while a post-bath emollient is essential, it’s also important to use the right bathtime products to clean your little one’s skin.

For sudsing up in the tub, we recommend products designed specifically for eczema-prone skin like Mustela’s Stelatopia Cleansing Gel and Stelatopia Foam Shampoo.

Our Stelatopia Cleansing Gel is perfect for gently cleansing your baby’s face and body without stripping their skin of its natural oils.

And it’s made with 98% naturally derived ingredients, like avocado perseose to help replenish baby’s skin and shea butter to soften and soothe skin while protecting it from environmental irritants.

Or, for an oil cleanser that can be applied directly to the skin or poured into bath water, turn to Mustela’s Stelatopia Cleansing Oil.

When it’s time to shampoo their tiny head of hair, use Stelatopia Foam Shampoo to clean the hair and scalp of your eczema-prone baby. This product is crafted with sunflower oil distillate to soothe and moisturize skin among other natural and skin-strengthening ingredients.

 Young girl holding Mustela skin products after taking a bath

For more tips on how to bathe your baby to avoid eczema flare-ups, click here.

Emollients And The Pool, Beach, And Lake

For trips to the pool, lake, or ocean, apply an emollient balm or cream, then an SPF 50+ mineral-based sunscreen, before swimming. Be sure to re-apply the sunscreen and the emollient when your baby is done swimming or after every hour that they stay in the water.

Mustela’s SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion provides effective sun protection that’s also safe and gentle enough for eczema-prone skin, making this sunscreen ideal for the whole family.

It contains non-nano zinc oxide to protect your skin from the sun’s rays as well as coconut oil, macadamia oil, and vitamin E to hydrate skin at the same time.

In addition to all that natural goodness, you can rest assured that this mineral sunscreen is free of chemical UV filters, parabens, phthalates, fragrances, and phenoxyethanol. For more information about sunscreen and eczema-prone skin, read our article here.

 Mom with daughter at the pool

Using emollients and opting for the right sunscreen and bathtime products will ensure that your baby can enjoy the water just as much as you do without worrying so much about an eczema flare-up.

What To Look For In Emollients

Now that you know what emollients are and why they are so beneficial for your baby’s eczema-prone skin, let’s discuss what to look for in an emollient product. Then, to wrap up, we’ll tell you about three emollients that you can start applying to your baby’s skin right away.

Keep in mind that emollients are fantastic but are just part of the bigger picture of caring for your baby’s skin and avoiding eczema flare-ups.

Continue learning about food allergies and baby eczema, the causes and symptoms of baby eczema, and how to monitor your baby’s environment to prevent flare-ups.

Natural Ingredients

At the core of each Mustela product is the belief that nature knows best. All of our products favor ingredients that are either natural or of natural origin. This includes ingredients like olive oil, avocado oil, aloe vera, shea butter, coconut oil, colloidal oatmeal, and so many more.

While not all natural ingredients are guaranteed to be gentle on very sensitive skin, we believe natural is always better, so we stay away from questionable chemical ingredients.

Free Of Harsh Chemical Ingredients And Fragrances

 Two kids on a bed with Mustela skincare products with Emollients

Many chemical ingredients are not only hard on sensitive skin but are also detrimental to your or your baby’s overall health.

And, of course, for eczema-prone skin, it’s especially important that a moisturizing product be free of skin-irritating ingredients.

Stay away from chemical sunscreen filters like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate as well as irritating ingredients such as sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and phenoxyethanol, which can be found in a variety of products.

Also, be sure that your product is labeled “hypoallergenic.” While this isn’t a regulated term, it’s still a good place to start.

Free Of Specific Allergens And Triggers

As we just mentioned, it’s a good idea to look for a product that’s labeled “hypoallergenic.” But that should be in addition to you checking for any specific ingredients that you know your baby is sensitive to.

After all, just as every body is different (and uniquely beautiful), every person’s skin is different and reacts to different substances. So, if you know of specific allergens or triggers, keep an eye out for them on the ingredient list.

Certified By The National Eczema Association

When your product has the stamp of approval from the National Eczema Association, you can rest easy. The National Eczema Association says, “NEA Seal of Acceptance™ criteria includes a list of ingredients that should be avoided because they contain known irritants.”

So, this seal helps you “recognize products that are suitable for care of eczema or sensitive skin.”

Eco-Friendly

Just as we believe that nature knows best, we want to give back to the earth by creating products that are eco-friendly.

All of Mustela’s products are made from plant-based ingredients, and we believe in preserving biodiversity. Because of this, we require that all Mustela suppliers incorporate sustainable development practices as part of that commitment. Learn more about our commitments here.

Natural, Gentle Emollients For Babies

Without further ado, we’ll wrap up with three wonderful emollient moisturizers that are safe and beneficial for your baby’s eczema-prone skin.

Emollient Face Cream

 Mom and daughter using Mustela’s Stelatopia Emollient Face Cream

For an emollient designed specifically for your baby’s kissable face, look no further than Mustela’s Stelatopia Emollient Face Cream, which is made with 97% naturally derived ingredients.

Ingredients like sunflower oil distillate, licorice extract, shea butter, and sunflower oil distillate soothe and hydrate skin, replenish lipids, and support the skin’s moisture barrier.

Plus, since it’s ever-so-gentle, this cream can even be applied to your baby’s eyelids. It’s been clinically tested on eczema-prone skin under pediatric and dermatological control and has the National Eczema Association stamp of approval.

Emollient Balm

Mustela’s Stelatopia Emollient Balm is perfect for dry skin and eczema relief as it moisturizes, replenishes, and soothes your skin while restoring and protecting the skin barrier.

It has a rich, occlusive texture, and we recommend applying it twice a day, but it’s especially helpful for nighttime to keep your baby comfortable while they snooze.

In addition to other natural ingredients, this balm contains caranuba wax, which leaves a protective layer on your baby’s skin.

And, just like all of our eczema care products, it is approved by the National Eczema Association and free of parabens, phthalates, and phenoxyethanol.

Emollient Cream

 Mom applying Stelatopia Emollient Cream on baby

Another all-over moisturizer, our Stelatopia Emollient Cream has a light, creamy texture and is ideal for everyday maintenance and care for extremely dry or eczema-prone skin.

It’s easy to apply, absorbs quickly, and moisturizes your little one’s skin to relieve irritation, itching, and discomfort.

And, of course, it’s fragrance-free, safe for newborns, dermatologist- and pediatrician-tested, steroid-free, and approved by the National Eczema Association.

Treat Your Baby’s Skin To Natural Emollients

There are ways to manage and treat your baby’s eczema naturally, and using emollients regularly is one of the best ways to do so!

Safe for even the most sensitive skin (including newborns), healing, and perfect for when your baby takes a dip, the benefits of emollients are many.

Look for products that are made with natural ingredients (and no harsh chemicals), free of any specific allergens or triggers, and approved by the National Eczema Association.

Emollients like Mustela’s Stelatopia Emollient Face Cream, Stelatopia Emollient Cream, and Stelatopia Emollient Balm fit the bill and are perfect additions to your skin-soothing repertoire.

Soothed, hydrated baby skin, here you come!