Choosing the right moisturizers for your baby

Navigating through all the moisturizers out there to find the right one for your baby can be a nightmare.

My baby Marcie has tried various lotions and creams (I remembered when the household budget burst due to many trial and error purchases and our cabinets stacked full of different moisturizers) and finally settled on using Physiogel AI cream, Physiogel body lotion and QV body lotion. As you are figuring out which moisturizer to use, it is important to remember the one advice that I had from Marcie’s doctor, “You Can’t Moisturize too Much”.

The Undecipherable Information out there on Moisturizer

Whether over the internet or on product labels, I have this conclusion after trying to no avail to sum up the pros and cons of different moisturizers – We, as parents and layman, can’t figure out from reading the information available. I have tried at least 3 times to make sense of all the information out there, including comparing all the ingredients, and given up (all three times). I can only let you know that Physiogel and QV work for Marcie which are also recommended by Marcie’s doctor (I didn’t accept any advertising fees from these two brands and neither do I see these brands sold at the clinic that Marcie’s doctor works in).

What Moisturizers worked for Marcie’s Eczema

Physiogel AI cream works quite well but due to its high cost, S$35 for 50ml, I only use it on her face and after  swimming. Physiogel AI cream is able to neutralize free radicals which when produced in excess, damages skin cells. Physiogel body lotion also works for Marcie but also due to its cost, I use when her rashes are affecting her badly (on top of using mild steroid). On a daily basis, liberal amounts of QV body lotion is slathered on Marcie and her infant care teachers have also been reassured not to worry about slathering too much.

What has not worked for Marcie’s Eczema

Aqueous cream which contains emulsifying ointment, paraffin and preservatives – I tried this as it was recommended by a friend’s dermatologist but it hasn’t worked for Marcie. She scratched the area and was crying with frustration the two nights we applied for her. Also read that some doctors say this cream will cause thinning of skin over long period of use.

California Baby – no improvement and my hubby who has eczema felt that it stung on his eczema skin

Gaia Natural Baby – no improvement and too expensive to use liberally

Both the organic cream, California Baby and Gaia Natural Baby, are gifts from friends. Read that organic does not necessarily mean non – allergenic as some people can still be allergic to the organic ingredients. Also the use of the word ‘organic’ is not regulated.

Calamine lotion – not suitable as told by a doctor whose kids have allergies. I think it’s because one of the key ingredient, zinc oxide, absorbs moisture and that’s why it doesn’t help to moisturize the skin but helps to dry up weeping wounds.

Prickly heat powder– not suitable as told by same doctor above. My own guess is that it doesn’t have any moisturizing function.

Some common items to look out for in labels

  1. Hypoallergenic – means less chance of developing allergy
  2. Suitable for eczema baby or child
  3. Free of fragrance and perfumes
  4. Free from dyes, colors, conventional emulsifiers, preservatives, mineral oils, paraffin

In general, lotions are more easily absorbed but not as long-lasting as creams. For me, I prefer lotion as Marcie is too fidgety for me to have the time to get the cream from the tub (and ensuring no contamination) and apply over her body.

Do persevere in moisturizing as dry skin leads to itching and do so liberally all day and immediately after your baby’s shower.

Update: Almost a year after writing this post, I’ve interviewed a dermatologist Dr Verallo-Rowell for a 13-part Sensitive Skin Product Series, and in this post, she provides the list of ingredients and their different names to avoid. 

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  1. My dermatologist prescribed steroid cream and Aqueous cream. I’m on full strength steroid cream now 🙁

    A friend just passed me a tube of Physiogel AI cream and it’s working so much better than Aqueous. But it only helps me in my eczema, not my hives which comes together with my eczema flare up.

    May I know what’s the difference between Physiogel AI cream and Physiogel body lotion?

  2. I do! Lots! I thought you were referring to steroid cream. For QV, I slather it on my baby, use like 500ml/week! Whenever I feel that her skin is dry, and always after shower, I would moisturize lots lots on her 🙂

  3. Hi Beebee,

    Yes, it does come and go.. I don’t apply more than once per weekday and maybe twice max during weekend. Always sparingly. Usually, I may apply for few days, rashes go away and I stopped. If it comes back, we’d apply again. I believe it is safe, since we are using as prescribed and not treating the eczema is worse off. Are you coming for the support group breakfast at Tiong Bahru this Saturday?

    Hope to see you!

  4. Hi Mei,

    I brought my boy to NSC and they prescribed the cream exactly like your Marcie Pd.
    It does make the rashes go but after sometime out of sudden it comes back again. Even if we will
    Maintain it. Does it happen to Marcie?

  5. Hi Karin,

    Most cases of eczema start off as child, but may go into remission and come back later in life. It’s sort of a mystery, as I’ve even heard of 60+ mom with grand kids suddenly developing eczema.
    If the eczema cannot be controlled using moisturizer (i.e. one without potential irritants, please click on tag ‘product label’ to learn more), not using soap (but choose non-soap cleaner/bath oil), then you may want to see a doctor. Likely will be prescribed topical steroid at polyclinic, which is ok if used under doctor’s direction (you can click ‘steroids’ to find out more).
    Otherwise, you may want to get referral to see specialist at National Skin Centre or NUH..
    Hope your eczema gets better!

  6. I know this blog is meant for baby but a few days ago, suddenly I have eczema on both legs and arms. Do u know why this happen? What is the shower gel and moisturiser that should I use? I am in late thirties? And what should I avoid? Please help. Thanks

  7. Hi Dan,

    It’s sold in hospital pharmacies (NUH, KKH I know for sure) and some GPs who sell creams/thermometers etc may also stock it. Heard from another mom AI cream is 2 for $60 (vs 1 for $38) at KKH until end of month.

  8. Some companies have excluded cocamidopropyl betaine from their ingredient or clearly labelling it, as it has irritated the sensitive skin of some of their customers. Cocamidopropyl betaine is a surfactant from coconut oil that decreases the surface tension of water, allowing it easier to wash your face.