- Moisturize frequently
- Avoid sudden changes in temperature or humidity
- Avoid sweating or overheating
- Reduce stress
- Avoid scratchy materials (e.g., wool or other irritants)
- Avoid harsh soaps, detergents, and solvents
- Avoid environmental factors that trigger allergies (e.g.,
pollens, molds, mites, and animal dander)
- Be aware of any foods that may cause an outbreak and avoid
How can eczema be treated?
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).
Skin affected by eczema may frequently become infected. If this
happens to you, your doctor may prescribe topical or oral antibiotics
to kill the bacteria causing the infection.
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
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.