Eczema can be a frustrating skin condition, whether you get it a few times a year or deal with it every day. It’s important to work closely with your doctor to make a plan that will help you control the itch and rash.
Eczema treatment has four main goals:
- Control the itch.
- Heal the skin.
- Prevent flares.
- Prevent infections.
The right treatment for you depends on your age, medical history, how bad your symptoms are, and other things. You’ll probably need to use a mix of remedies to get the best results. And there are things you should do on your own to keep your skin healthy and clear.
Here’s your complete guide to eczema treatments.
Eczema meds can relieve your symptoms and help the skin heal when you take them as directed. The treatments may not have the same effects on everyone, though. So you and your doctor may need to try a few different options to see what works best for you.
Corticosteroid creams, solutions, foams, and ointments. These treatments made with hydrocortisone steroids can quickly relieve itching and reduce inflammation. They come in different strengths, from mild over-the-counter (OTC) treatments to stronger prescription medicines.
OTC hydrocortisone is often the first thing doctors recommend to treat mild eczema. You may need different strengths of these steroids depending on where and how bad your rash is. For example, a doctor may prescribe a more potent one for thick, scaly skin. Side effects from these meds, such as thinning skin and stretch marks, are rare when you take them as directed.
NSAID ointment. There is now a new prescription non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory called crisaborole (Eucrisa) which can be used to treat mild to moderate forms of eczema. A twice a day application for patients 2 years old and older has been effective in reducing inflammation and helping the skin return to a normal appearance.
Barrier repair moisturizers. You can get these over the counter and by prescription. They help lock water into your skin, repair damage, and ease dryness, redness, and itching. Some products may have irritating fragrances or other ingredients, so ask your doctor or pharmacist which ones you should try or avoid.
Pimecrolimus and tacrolimus, medicines you rub on your skin, treat moderate-to-severe eczema for some people. They ease inflammation, but they aren’t steroids. They may increase the risk of skin cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, so the FDA issued a special warning for them. Talk to your doctor about these risks before you take the drugs.
Corticosteroid pills, liquids, or shots. These powerful drugs help relieve symptoms of severe or hard-to-treat eczema. Because of the risk for side effects such as skin damage and bone loss, you should take them only for a short time.