Eczema is a prevalent skin disorder that causes itchy, inflamed, cracked, and scaly skin. The leading cause of the disease isn’t well understood, but recent studies show that genetics, immune system activation, and environmental triggers are to blame. People with eczema often have overactive immune systems that cause skin inflammation. Below is an in-depth overview of the various eczema treatment options.
Eczema Treatment Options
Eczema, like other chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and rosacea, has no cure. However, their symptoms can be successfully managed by choosing a customized treatment plan. If you/your loved one is battling eczema, we have rounded up moderate to severe eczema treatments for your convenience. We have broken down these treatments into five. These are:
- Moisturizers or emollients.
- Topical corticosteroids.
- Specialty injection drugs.
- Bandages/special body suits.
These moisturizing elements help alleviate the dry and scaly skin conditions common with eczema. The treatment is applied to the affected skin, helping reduce water loss. It also offers a protective film that softens the skin and reduces the risks of frequent flare-ups. Moisturizers are available in different forms and designs, so it’s best to first consult your pharmacist before buying one.
More often, you may be advised to use a variety of emollients, depending on your condition. For instance, you could use an ointment if your skin is super dry, a lotion/cream for less dry skin, and an emollient instead of soap. It’s worth noting that ointments, unlike lotions and emollients, contain lots of oil; hence they are pretty effective in moisture retention.
Consult your pharmacist if you’ve been using a particular emollient you think has not been very effective. Ensure the pharmacist you work with has some experience dealing with eczema patients.
These medications come in the form of ointments, lotions, or creams that help reduce inflammation. They are available in varying strengths, and your doctor will prescribe one depending on the severity of your condition. Topical corticosteroids can be very mild, moderate, or very strong. These medications should be applied only to affected skin areas. It’s also crucial to regularly check if the treatment works effectively for your condition.
Every topical corticosteroid brand has an information leaflet on how to use it, including the dosage and possible side effects. Your pharmacist may sometimes recommend using the emollient for 30 minutes before applying a corticosteroid.
Due to the potential side effects such as thinning of the skin, change in skin color, and acne breakouts, these medications should be used less frequently. More often, the side effects go away once the treatment stops.
These medications are commonly used to alleviate the symptoms of allergies. They work by blocking the effects of a chemical substance called histamine. The aim is to relieve the itching sensation common with atopic eczema. Antihistamines can be sedating or non-sedating, so you should consult your pharmacist before buying one.
Ideally, you want to use a non-sedating medication if you have severe itching that occurs any time of the day. This is because such drugs can cause drowsiness, affecting your alertness and concentration. However, if the itching and flare-up adversely affect your sleep, you should consider using a sedating antihistamine.
Specialty Injection Drugs
The eczema medications discussed above are over-the-counter drugs, meaning you don’t necessarily need a prescription to use them. For this reason, they may not always work as expected, especially if you have not consulted a board-certified dermatologist. If eczema affects your quality of life and you don’t have a clear record of what causes the flare-ups, seeing a specialist is always a good decision.
Your dermatologist will do an allergy test and thoroughly review your existing treatments to check their efficacy. In cases where the OTC treatments show minimal improvements or increase the risk of side effects, your doctor will recommend an atopic dermatitis injection. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the injection can be used with/without topical corticosteroids.
Bandages and Special Body Suits
When managing the symptoms is crucial to improving the quality of life, your doctor may prescribe some medicated clothing, wet wraps, or bandages to wear over the affected skin parts. These clothing can be combined with other treatments such as topical corticosteroids, emollients, and eczema injections. They allow the skin to heal and prevent it from drying out.
Besides the treatment options we have discussed above, there are other measures you can take to better manage the eczema symptoms. One is phototherapy, which uses UV light to reduce inflammation. Managing stress and anxiety can also help reduce the frequency or severity of flare-ups. To reduce the damage from scratching, you should always keep your skin moist and warm. Being conscious of the effects of scratching and keeping the nails short can also help minimize damage.
Where possible, avoid eczema triggers such as wearing irritating fabric, staying in hot environments, using scented or strong detergents, etc. It’s also advisable to maintain a balanced diet while avoiding any food allergens.