What are treatments for eczema?
Removing whatever is causing the allergic reaction is the easiest and most effective treatment. This may be as simple as changing your laundry detergent or as difficult as moving to a new climate or changing jobs. Several treatment options for eczema are available. But primarily, it is most important to diagnose correctly and to identify the underlying aetiological factors (e.g. allergens in case of allergic contact dermatitis). Avoidance of the aetiological factors is one important
therapeutical approach. Symptomatic treatment includes topical and systemic treatment regimens. The treatment depends on the underlying type of eczema and on its localisation.
One of the most important components of an eczema treatment routine is to prevent scratching. Because eczema is usually dry and itchy, the most common treatment is the application of lotions or creams to keep the skin as moist as possible. These treatments are generally most effective when applied directly after bathing (within three minutes is a common recommendation) so that the moisture from the bath is "locked in." Cold compresses applied directly to itchy skin can also help relieve itching. If the condition persists, worsens, or does not improve satisfactorily, another effective treatment is the application of nonprescription corticosteroid creams and ointments to reduce inflammation.
Alternatives to nonprescription corticosteroids include more potent prescription corticosteroid creams and ointments, which are effective, but which may have some side effects. To prevent side effects such as skin thinning, your doctor may limit the length of treatment time and locations where you can apply treatment. For severe flare-ups, your doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids, but be aware that side effects including new flare-ups can develop when treatment is discontinued (this treatment is not recommended for long-term use).
For severe itching, sedative antihistamines are sometimes used to reduce the itch and are available in both prescription and over-the-counter varieties. Because drowsiness is a common side effect, antihistamines are often used in the evening to help a person restless from eczema get to sleep. Because of the same sedative effect, though, persons taking these agents should not drive. Tar treatments and phototherapy are also used and can have positive effects; however, tar can be messy. Phototherapy requires special equipment (lights). Finally, in cases where eczema is resistant to therapy, your physician may prescribe the drug cyclosporine A, which modifies immune response; however, this is used only in extreme cases because of its association with serious side effects.
Seborrhea in adults is best treated with dandruff shampoo, and, occasionally, with prescription antifungal facial creams or rinses. Cradle cap in infants eventually will clear up without treatment, though it can last for several months. The crust usually can be loosened by applying baby oil to the scalp for 30 to 60 minutes before brushing with a soft brush and then washing with baby shampoo.
The ultraviolet light waves found in sunlight have been shown to benefit certain skin disorders, including eczema. Phototherapy uses ultraviolet light, either ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB), from special lamps to treat people with severe eczema. In some cases, a medication called psoralens is prescribed before phototherapy to make the skin more sensitive to the effects of the ultraviolet light. This treatment is called PUVA (psoralens plus ultraviolet A).
Topical immunomodulators (TIMs) is a new class of drugs for the treatment of eczema. One drug in this class—tacrolimus—has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of moderately severe eczema. TIMs are topical drugs that modulate the immune response (alter the reactivity of cell-surface immunologic responsiveness). Studies have shown that this class of drugs will improve or completely clear eczema in more than 80 percent of treated patients, with a side-effect profile comparable with topical steroids.
More information on eczema
What is eczema? - Eczema is a heterogeneous group of different non-infectious skin diseases. Eczema occurs in both children and adults, but usually appears during infancy.
What types of eczema are there? - There are various types of eczema, including atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis), contact dermatitis, varicose eczema, discoid eczema, nummular eczema, stasis dermatitis.
What are the symptoms of eczema? - Symptoms of eczema are itching and redness, and may make the skin dry and flaky. Eczema makes the skin more sensitive.
What causes eczema? - The most common cause of eczema is a general allergic over-sensitivity. Other types of eczema arise as a result of causes within the body.
How does eczema affect people? - In eczema, the main problems occur in the epidermis where the keratinocytes become less tightly held together.
How is eczema diagnosed? - Eczema is usually diagnosed through a physical examination. Further tests may include skin biopsy or patch tests.
What are the treatments for eczema? - Avoidance of the aetiological factors is one important therapeutical approach. Symptomatic treatment includes topical and systemic treatment regimens.
How can eczema be prevented? - Eczema flare-ups can be prevented by avoiding exposure to extreme temperatures, dry air, harsh soaps and bubble baths.
How to deal with infant or baby eczema? - For mild to moderate baby eczema, the application of moisturizer on a regular basis can be very helpful. Avoid as many eczema triggers as possible.
What is atopic eczema and its treatment? - Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the commonest form of eczema and is closely linked with asthma and hayfever.
What is dyshidrotic eczema? - Dyshidrotic eczema is a form of eczema often seen on the hands and feet where tiny blisters of serum form just below the skin's surface.
What is nummular eczema? - Nummular eczema is a chronic eczema characterised by coin-shaped, sharply demarcated lesions. Nummular eczema is more common in males.
What is hand eczema (hand dermatitis)? - Hand eczema, also called hand dermatitis, is a skin condition in which the hands develop a rash and become red, dry, cracked, and inflamed.
What is varicose eczema? - Varicose eczema is due to increased pressure within the veins in the leg. Varicose eczema affects the lower legs people in their middle to late years.
What's seborrhoeic eczema? - Seborrhoeic eczema is a common skin disease affecting any sebum-(natural oil) producing area of the skin.