Eczema is term for a group of medical conditions that cause the skin to become inflamed or irritated. The most common type of eczema is known as atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema. Atopic refers to a group of diseases with an often inherited tendency to develop other allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.
There are a variety of options for the treatment of eczema or atopic dermatitis. Your doctor will recommend an eczema treatment plan based on several variables, including:
- The type or cause of your eczema
- The location of the rash (face vs. knee)
- The severity of eczema and its impact on your life
- The duration of symptoms (acute vs. chronic). Long-lasting symptoms usually require more potent eczema medications.
- Results from previous treatments.
- Your personal preferences
The goals of eczema treatment are to heal the skin, prevent new flare-ups, and reduce itching and urge to scratch, which can lead to even greater problems.
How Is Eczema Treated?
The goal of treatment for eczema is to relieve and prevent itching, which can lead to infection. Since the disease makes skin dry and itchy, lotions and creams are recommended to keep the skin moist. These products are usually applied when the skin is damp, such as after bathing, to help the skin retain moisture. Cold compresses may also be used to relieve itching.
Over-the-counter products, such as hydrocortisone 1% cream, or prescription creams and ointments containing corticosteroids are often prescribed to reduce inflammation. For severe cases, your doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids. In addition, if the affected area becomes infected, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to kill the infection-causing bacteria.
Other treatments include antihistamines to reduce severe itching, tar treatments (chemicals designed to reduce itching), phototherapy (therapy using ultraviolet light applied to the skin) and the drug cyclosporine for people whose condition doesn’t respond to other treatments.
For more information on eczema, please click here.