What are the treatment options for eczema?

There is no cure for eczema, but there are several treatment options that can help you manage the disease. Prescription strength corticosteroid creams or oral antihistamines (allergy medications) can be used to relieve itching. If these aren't effective your doctor might choose to prescribe a systemic corticosteroid instead. These can be taken orally or injected, but they are generally reserved for more severe cases. For people over the age of two, new medications known as immunomodulators can also be used to affect the immune system and help control eczema. However, there are concerns about the effects of their long-term use and as a result they are typically used only as a last resort. Light therapy has also shown promise in treating eczema. When closely monitored by a doctor, exposure to controlled amounts of ultraviolet (UV) rays can help control the condition but long-term use comes with several risks including a higher chance of developing skin cancer.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Treatment options for eczema may include emollients to help relieve dry skin and cold compresses to ease itchiness. Your doctor may also prescribe corticosteroids or other medications to reduce inflammation, and antibiotics to clear any infections. Some doctors might also suggest phototherapy. A combination of therapies is usually the most effective way to manage the condition.

Speak to your dermatologist to find out which treatments are right for you.
Treatments for eczema include oral antihistamines for relief of the severe itching, as well as topical steroids to relieve inflammation and itchiness. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two ointments -- tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel) -- to treat eczema. Both are in a class of drugs called topical immunomodulators (TIMS), which are steroid-free and appropriate and effective for patients seeking an option to avoid the side effects associated with steroids. However, because the effect of extended use of these medications is unknown, the FDA recommends that Elidel and Protopic only be used when a person cannot tolerate other eczema treatments or when all other treatments have failed.

Your doctor may prescribe a short course of oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to relieve inflammation. Low-potency corticosteroids are also available over the counter, but check with your doctor before taking them.

Moisturizers are an essential part of eczema therapy but should be chosen carefully because they can inflame sensitive skin. Newer products called barrier repair creams have no topical steroids and may repair the skin disruption caused by eczema. These may be an adjuctive therapy or solo therapy. Petroleum jelly is an excellent bland lubricant for this condition. Anti-itch lotions like calamine lotion and Benadryl can also provide some relief.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.