Which Moisturizer Best Treats Eczema?
Emily Miki, Emily Chen
Burnaby South Secondary
Floor Location : J 162 H

Eczema is a complex condition in which the skin barrier is weakened, resulting in irritated and inflamed skin. As 17% of Canadians are affected by this skin condition, we were interested in finding an effective way to treat it. Moisturizing is one of the best ways to treat eczema, as it strengthens and maintains a healthy skin barrier. We wondered, which non-prescribed moisturizer would be the most effective to treat eczema.
Occlusive agents help form a barrier on the epidermis, preventing moisture from evaporating. Emollient agents help fill spaces between irritated skin cells. We proposed that a moisturizer containing both emollient and occlusive agents will be most effective compared to water-based moisturizers.
We decided to test 6 non-prescribed moisturizers: Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, Vaseline, Burts Bees Almond and Milk Hand Cream, L'Occitane Dry Skin Hand Cream, Aquaphor Healing Ointment, and Nutiva Coconut Oil. We created a skin model using gelatin as it has similar properties to natural skin. We tested the moisturizers by measuring the weight loss of moisture in our gelatin models daily for one week at room temperature (21°C), repeating at 4°C to see the effects of temperature. We assumed weight loss was due to the loss of water from the gelatin skin model.
Our data showed that all of our samples lost weight over one week, but some did more success than others. The data we obtained showed two groups of moisturizers. The moisturizers that were oil based (Vaseline, Aquaphor, Coconut oil, Burts Bees), retained water better than the products made primarily of water (Aveeno, L'occitane). Natural Oil based products (Coconut oil, Burts Bees) performed fairly well, but they fell slightly short after the leading products (Vaseline, Aquaphor) that are made with emollient and occlusive agents. Compared to our control samples, the water based products did somewhat better. We performed this procedure again at 4°C and noticed less weight loss over time with all products but still saw a clear difference between the oil based and water based moisturizers.
Our results supported our hypothesis. Moisturizers containing petrolatum (an emollient and occlusive agent), were the most effective followed by natural oil products. We believe this is because petrolatum and natural oils are lipids, which are hydrophobic. Hydrophobic products repel from water, creating a barrier where water cannot evaporate.
Limitations of this project include our inability to know how much of the moisturizer evaporated during the process of testing. As well, we weren't able to control the humidity levels, air circulation and temperature variability within the particular area.
In the future, testing in varied temperatures and environments along with different skin types may further expand and support our hypothesis.
Our results benefits society as several individuals deal with this condition. Needing proper treatment and care, individuals may invest lots of money into products that may or may not be effective. Our project shows some recommended products and the ideal ingredients in a good moisturizer, helping consumers get what they pay for.