Aquaphor is an ointment that soothes, repairs and protects dry, irritated skin. It can be a suitable moisturizer for people with eczema due to its humectant, soothing, anti-irritant, and occlusive properties.

The primary goal of treatment for eczema or atopic dermatitis (AD) is to keep the skin hydrated and repair the skin barrier.

Topical moisturizers are the core treatment for eczema, and the priority of treatment is to develop a daily skin moisturizing regimen using fragrance-free ointments.

This article explores Aquaphor as a treatment for eczema, its benefits, possible side effects, and precautions. It also discusses alternative creams or ointments for eczema and answers frequently asked questions.

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Aquaphor is an over-the-counter (OTC) ointment manufactured by Beiersdorf, Inc.

It aims to restore smooth and healthy skin. People can use it for dry, cracked, irritated skin and minor skin conditions such as diaper rash and insect bites.

Aquaphor adds a semiocclusive barrier on the skin that allows it to “breathe” while retaining its own moisture.

It contains the following ingredients:

  • paraffinum liquidum — highly refined mineral oil
  • cera microcristallina derived from petroleum
  • cersin — a mineral wax
  • lanolin alcohol
  • panthenol
  • glycerol
  • bisabolol

How it works for eczema

A 2022 study found that Aquaphor was an effective adjuvant treatment to topical steroids and was safe and effective for mild to moderate hand eczema.

Aquaphor is also free of preservatives, dyes, and fragrances, common contact allergens that may worsen eczema.

Its limited ingredients also make it suitable for people with sensitive skin. They also do not contain ingredients typically added to creams and lotions, so they are less irritating, and most people with eczema tolerate them well.

Aquaphor provides the following beneficial properties for people with eczema and sensitive skin.

Occlusive moisturizers form a physical barrier on the skin to seal in moisture.

The petrolatum in Aquaphor effectively reduces water loss through the top skin layer by nearly 99%.

As with petrolatum, mineral oil has occlusive properties and prevents water loss and dehydration by 20–30%. It also has humectant properties that help promote moisture retention.

Aquaphor contains dexpanthenol, the biologically active form of panthenol, which penetrates and moisturizes the skin. It is a humectant.

Based on several studies, panthenol has the following benefits on the skin which is beneficial for people with eczema:

  • improves skin hydration
  • reduces transepidermal water loss
  • repairs the skin barrier and prevents skin barrier dysfunction
  • heals wounds

A 2017 study said that glycerol-based emollients, like Aquaphor, are more effective at treating skin dryness than emollients without glycerol.

Glycerin is another humectant that attracts and binds water. It prevents dehydration and subsequent physical damage. It also significantly accelerates skin barrier repair after its disruption.

Bisabolol in Aquaphor is an oil extracted from chamomile. It has anti-inflammatory and skin-healing effects.

A 2015 study also found that botanical anti-inflammatories that contain bisabolol helped reduce signs and symptoms of mild and moderate eczema.

Aquaphor is generally a safe ointment for people with no unwanted side effects.

Everyone reacts differently to emollients. It is crucial for individuals with atopic dermatitis to work with a dermatologist to find a suitable emollient to use in their daily moisturizing regimen.

People should use Aquaphor as indicated or follow a doctor’s advice. If a person is nursing, they will need to avoid applying it on the breast area to prevent the baby’s mouth from coming into contact with the ointment.

Research into adverse reactions

Some research studies have demonstrated that some people have experienced adverse reactions to some of Aquaphor’s ingredients.

Lanolin and skin allergies

One 2018 study stated little evidence of lanolin’s effectiveness in treating eczema and associates eczema with lanolin contact allergy. It also suggested that people with eczema should avoid daily application of lanolin.

In a 2017 Dutch study testing 1,012 children, those with eczema reacted more with lanolin than those without.

Glycerol and skin itching and dryness

One 2019 review noted that some people with eczema experienced adverse reactions such as itching, dryness, and irritation after using glycerol-containing emollients.

A person should discuss any noticeable skin changes with a doctor after using Aquaphor or other products for eczema.

Aquaphor is an occlusive moisturizer. Some similar alternatives include:

  • hydrocarbons such as paraffin, squalene, and mineral oil
  • silicones such as dimethicone
  • vegetable oil such as coconut oil
  • sterols such as ceramide
  • animal fats such as emu oil

Emollients for eczema are available in different forms:

  • ointments
  • creams
  • lotions
  • gels
  • sprays
  • soap substitutes

Some of these may have added ingredients, including:

Below are some common questions about Aquaphor and eczema.

Is Aquaphor good for eczema?

Aquaphor has moisturizing, protective, and healing properties. Therefore, it may benefit people with eczema by helping keep the skin hydrated and moisturized while restoring barrier function.

Does Aquaphor irritate eczema?

Aquaphor is generally a safe and effective moisturizer for people with eczema. However, some individuals may develop side effects.

The lanolin content of Aquaphor may irritate some people with eczema. People with AD are more likely to have lanolin contact allergies. Other ingredients may also cause an adverse reaction in some people with AD.

Is Aquaphor better than Vaseline?

Vaseline and Aquaphor have many similarities. Both products have petroleum as their primary active ingredient.

However, while both are occlusive moisturizers, Aquaphor contains other ingredients that give it humectant, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties.

Aquaphor is a popular occlusive moisturizer with protective, moisturizing, and healing properties. It contains few ingredients and does not contain preservatives, dyes, fragrances, or other potentially irritating additives.

For most people with eczema, Aquaphor can help keep their skin hydrated and restore its barrier function. Most people tolerate Aquaphor well, but it may cause adverse reactions in some people.

Individuals who cannot use Aquaphor may try alternative emollients. However, a person should talk with their doctor, who can help identify a suitable option.