What Is the Best Treatment for Eczema?

Reviewed on 1/25/2021

What is eczema?

Eczema treatment can be complex. There are many types of eczema that all might need a different treatment. However, there may be some self-care and home care practices that you can do to manage your skin and your symptoms.
Eczema treatment can be complex. There are many types of eczema that all might need a different treatment. However, there may be some self-care and home care practices that you can do to manage your skin and your symptoms.

Eczema is a group of chronic skin conditions that cause dry, itchy, and scaly patches. There are many factors to eczema, and researchers still don’t know all the reasons why you might develop it. It is very common and affects more than 31 million Americans.

Eczema is a chronic skin condition that causes dry, itchy, scaly, and inflamed skin. It is not contagious and can come and go in flares. 

There are seven types of eczema. These include:

Symptoms of eczema

Symptoms of eczema can be different for everyone. As you age, the area with eczema might change. Adults usually have eczema on the hands, feet, arms, backs of knees, and elbows. Children usually develop eczema on the face, knees, and outside of elbows. 

Some common symptoms of eczema include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Dry, scaly patches
  • Small bumps that open and weep
  • Itchiness
  • Thick skin

Eczema may appear red on lighter skin tones and brown, gray, or purple on darker skin tones.

People with eczema tend to have more staphylococcus (commonly called staph) bacteria on the skin, which can lead to frequent skin infections. 

Causes of eczema

Researchers still aren’t sure about the exact cause of eczema, but it is thought to be from genetic variations and issues with the immune system

Some people with eczema have genetic changes that cause a problem with a protein in the skin called filaggrin. Without enough of this protein, the skin barrier doesn’t work properly and leads to eczema. 

Some people have a problem with the immune system. Sometimes, irritants or allergens inside or outside of the body switch on the immune system. This creates inflammation and causes common eczema symptoms. 

Eczema tends to run in families and is also linked to allergies and asthma. Stress, foods, and product ingredients can all be eczema triggers.

QUESTION

Eczema (also atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis) is a general medical term for many types of skin inflammation. See Answer

Who can get eczema

Eczema is most common in babies and young children. People with chronic conditions like allergies or asthma, or who have family members with eczema, are more likely to develop eczema themselves. Some types of eczema can be related to other diseases like celiac disease.

Diagnosis for eczema

There are many types of eczema that can look like other skin conditions. Your doctor will need to take your personal and medical history and examine your skin. They will check if you have asthma, allergies, or a history of dermatitis. They will also ask if anyone in your family has these conditions.

You may also need to have a patch test. This involves putting small amounts of allergens onto the skin and checking for allergies. 

Treatments for eczema

There is no cure for eczema, and eczema treatment can be complex. There are many types of eczema that all might need a different treatment. However, there may be some self-care and home care practices that you can do to manage your skin and your symptoms.

Medications

You may be able to manage your symptoms with over-the-counter eczema treatments. These may include:

Your doctor may prescribe other medications to help your symptoms and your immune system. These may include:

  • Topical steroids and steroid pills
  • Topical calcineurin inhibitors
  • Topical PDE4 inhibitors
  • Biologic drugs
  • Systemic immunosuppressants
  • Phototherapy
  • Antibiotics 

Home care and remedies

A significant part of eczema treatment is caring for the skin at home and avoiding allergens and triggers. It is important to establish a regular bathing and moisturizing routine to maintain skin health

To manage your eczema at home you, you can:

  • Bathe in lukewarm water
  • Use a gentle, unscented, fragrance-free cleanser
  • Gently pat the skin dry without rubbing
  • Apply any topical medications to the area
  • Apply a liberal amount of moisturizer all over your body within 3 minutes of your shower 
  • Apply a dressing or wet wrap
  • Avoid scratching the skin
  • Avoid harsh soaps, lotions, or detergents

You may find that a bath soothes the skin. Some bath treatments that might help include soaking in a full tub of lukewarm water with one of the following:

  • ¼ cup of baking soda to relieve itching
  • ½ cup regular bleach to help skin infections
  • 1 cup table salt to relieve stinging

Managing stress is also an important piece of your eczema treatment.

Alternative therapies

Some complementary therapies may also help eczema. These include:

Some people find taking supplements like omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics may be helpful for the skin, but researchers are still learning whether these are valid eczema treatments.

Possible complications and side effects

You can treat and manage your eczema, but you may encounter some complications. These may include:

The immunosuppressants you may use to treat your eczema can have potential side effects. Some side effects include:

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References
Dermatology Practical and Conceptual: “Diet and eczema: a review of dietary supplements for the treatment of atopic dermatitis.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Eczema.”

National Eczema Association: “Bathing, Moisturizing and Wet Wraps.”

National Eczema Association: “Complementary and Alternative Treatments.”

National Eczema Association: “Eczema Treatment.”

National Eczema Association: “Over the Counter.”

National Eczema Association: “An Overview of the Different Types of Eczema.”

National Eczema Association: “Prescription Oral.”

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: “Filaggrin in atopic dermatitis.”

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