Aqueous Cream: Does It Cause Skin Irritation If You Have Eczema?


So back in 2010, the Independent posted an article stating that ‘moisturisers can aggravate eczema’. 

Sorry, what? 

I mean, we thought moisturising daily was the one of the most important things for all eczema sufferers to follow, right? 

Apparently not! At least when it comes to Aqueous Cream anyway. 

In this article, you’ll learn:

1) What is Aqueous Cream used for?

2) Research and side effects

3) Conclusions 

After all that, we’ll try our best to give you a yes/no decision on whether Aqueous Cream should go on the skin, or in the bin. 

Let’s go! 

Firstly, what is Aqueous Cream used for? 

As stated on the government website, Aqueous Cream is a widely used product topically applied as an emollient for the symptomatic relief of dry skin conditions such as atopic eczema, and as a soap-substitute for skin washing. 

Usually with emollients they are intended to soothe and hydrate the skin by covering it with a protective film to trap in moisture. 

This, on the face of it, sounds like just what we’re after. 

But due to some research completed over the last decade, it appears that for some eczema sufferers this cream is only going to make things worse. 

Research and side effects 

After conducting an audit of 100 children, 1 dermatology clinic reported that Aqueous Cream emollient was associated with an immediate skin reaction (stinging, burning, itching and redness) within 20 minutes in 56% of exposures, compared to 18% with other emollients used. 

Furthermore, several other studies also reported changes in the skin physiology (thinning of the outermost layer of the skin and increased water loss) following application of Aqueous Cream as an emollient in adults, both with and without eczema. 

The reason for all this? 

Experts think it’s down to sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) which is contained in the emulsifying wax of Aqueous Cream. 

However, the emollient also contains parabens and other ingredients like chlorocrescol (both known to sometimes cause allergic dermatitis) so there’s a possibility these could also be a contributing factor

So what does this all mean? 

Like we say time and again, you have to be acutely aware of what you’re putting on your skin. 

Understanding your own eczema battle and what types of ingredients might affect your skin, is key to winning the war. 

Whenever you try out a new product: patch test. 

Apply a small amount of cream onto the upper thigh and test the reaction over a 24-48 hour period. 

Doing this gives you the chance to see if the product causes an adverse reaction with your skin.  

As mentioned above, Aqueous Cream isn’t bad for everyone and there will be plenty of people this cream will be a very effective moisturiser for. 

Wrap up

So there it is, a short run through of Aqueous Cream and some of the key research done on the topic. 

We promised you a yes/no decision, right? 

Well unfortunately (we know this is SUPER annoying)’s a maybe! 

Larger tests are required to properly understand the impact of this emollient onto the skin - despite it being used since the 1950’s! 

But if you don’t like the sound of what we’ve mentioned above, then maybe stay away. 

There are plenty of great options out there to restore moisture to the skin (our own products included) and you certainly don’t want to risk anything that might aggravate instead of relieve. 

What have we missed? Jump over to our Twitter page and let us know! 

With care,

The yan-yee team


1) Moisturisers can aggravate eczema. (2010). Link

2) Aqueous cream: may cause skin irritation. (2014). Link

3) Patch testing. (2020). Link 

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