Should You Put Lotion On Dermatitis?

Dermatitis is a persistent and uncomfortable problem, with various causes and symptoms, but should you put lotion on it? We look at what works to calm dermatitis - and what doesn’t!

The simple answer is yes, you can use a lotion to moisturise dermatitis! And dermatitis definitely needs moisture.

The more complicated version is that lotion isn’t always the best choice of moisturisers…

Lotion vs cream vs ointment

While moisturisers are the first line of defence against dry and itchy skin, not all are created equal. Let’s look at the different options.


Tend to be water-based, thinner, quicker to apply, but because they have a higher proportion of water compared to other emollients, they have to contain preservatives to control bacterial and fungal growth. They can be useful if tolerated, as they cover a large area much quicker than thicker emollients, but their effect isn’t as lasting as ointments.


Also usually water-based, but thicker than lotions, creams can be helpful to prevent and treat mild dermatitis. They have a higher oil-content than lotions, so can be helpful for dermatitis.


Generally made without water, which means they may not need any potentially-irritating preservatives. Ointments, also known as balms or salves, have the highest oil content, which makes them best for severely cracked, sore or broken skin. They’re also less likely to sting on raw or scratched areas.

Fragrance or not?

Perfume, also known as parfum, fragrance or scent, is not recommended for dermatitis! It tends to be extremely irritating for skin, causing inflammation, water-loss and itchiness. Unfortunately, perfume is also absolutely standard in moisturisers. This means that high street lotions and creams are generally not suitable for use on dermatitis.

Other problematic ingredients

All kinds of creams and lotions can contain other skin-irritating ingredients - even natural skincare and medical emollients can be problematic! But different ingredients are problematic for different people. 

Potential problems range from various essential oils, coconut oil, lanolin, preservatives (such as phenoxyethanol, benzyl alcohol, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and methylisothiazolinone), parabens and PEGs.

Which lotion is best for dermatitis?

If you prefer the feel and ease-of-use of a lotion, over a thick, oil and beeswax ointment, then choose one that is as gentle as possible, and as free from ingredients that can irritate your skin further, like perfume and harsh preservatives. 

Make sure you don’t use it on broken skin, and reapply frequently.
Choose one that contains nutrients that will help support your skin barrier function and help your skin repair itself.

In one way, the best lotion for dermatitis is the one that works for you! If your skin can tolerate a lotion, and you’re happy to reapply it every few hours, keeping your skin well moisturised and protected from water loss, then a lotion can be a useful tool in the fight against dermatitis flares.

Try Balmonds Cooling Cream or Daily Moisturising Cream, both of which have a shea-butter base, and contain nourishing plant extracts to soothe the itchiness and feed depleted skin with vitamins and nutrients. 

Recommended products:

Balmonds Cooling Cream
with shea, menthol, aloe vera & lavender

Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream
with shea butter and calendula


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