Treating Eczema: A Comprehensive Guide

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that causes an itchy rash. It can occur in people of any age, gender or ethnic background, and up to 30% of dermatology visits are for eczema and related conditions. Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments available to help manage the condition. A care team for eczema should include a dermatologist, who can help develop a skin care plan to prevent breakouts and reduce symptoms when they appear.

Mild eczema can be treated with over-the-counter creams or ointments, while more severe cases may require a prescribed dose. Emollients are moisturizing treatments that are applied directly to the skin to reduce water loss and cover it with a protective film. If you have mild eczema, consult a pharmacist for advice on emollients. If you have moderate or severe eczema, talk to a family doctor.

You may need to try a few different emollients to find one that works for you. In addition to emollients, topical corticosteroids may be prescribed in different concentrations depending on the severity of the atopic eczema and the areas of the skin affected. Topical corticosteroids may cause a mild stinging sensation for less than a minute as you apply them. Antihistamines are another type of medicine that blocks the effects of histamine in the blood and can be used on emollients or with topical corticosteroids to avoid scratching and allow the skin underneath to heal.

Sedative antihistamines can cause drowsiness the next day, so it may be helpful to let your child's school know they may not be as alert as usual. Corticosteroid tablets are rarely used to treat atopic eczema today, but may occasionally be prescribed for short periods of 5 to 7 days to help control particularly severe outbreaks. If your condition is serious enough to benefit from repeated or prolonged treatment with corticosteroid tablets, you will probably be referred to a specialist. If you have severe eczema, you may find it helpful to bathe once a week with a small amount of bleach added to the water.

Children under 5 who have moderate to severe eczema should be screened for allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, and soy if the child continues to have eczema even after treatment. People with eczema should also avoid harsh cleansers, drink water frequently, wear gloves when it's cold, and avoid using materials such as wool which could irritate the skin. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a topical treatment called chrysaborol for children 2 years and older and adults with mild to moderate eczema. Allergists are specially trained to treat skin conditions such as eczema that are often linked to an allergic response. Your symptoms can vary in severity and depending on the type of eczema they can last anywhere from a few hours or days to several years. The goal of treatment for eczema and dermatitis is to relieve signs and symptoms of skin ailment with the least amount of medication.

Eczema outbreaks can be caused by food, cosmetics, soaps, wool, dust mites, mold, pollen, dog or cat dander, dry weather and other variables. If you do not have a food allergy then there are no foods including chicken that cause or worsen your eczema. For adults with eczema, the disease can usually be well controlled with good skin care and treatment although outbreaks of symptoms can occur throughout life. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology has concluded that the risk-to-benefit ratios of topical pimecrolimus and tacrolimus are similar to those of most other conventional treatments of persistent eczema and that the data do not support the use of the black-box warning.

Riya Hutchings
Riya Hutchings

On a quest to combat Contact Dermatitis!