What Is Eczemaand How Can You Treat It
Keep this itchy, red rash at bay with a dermatologist’s advice.
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Everyone can relate to experiencing skin irritation, however minor or major it may seem at the time. One of the most common skin conditions is eczema, which presents itself as a dry, red, and often itchy rash anywhere on the body. Its not usually serious, but it can certainly cause discomfort and requires special treatment.
To better understand what causes eczema and how to treat it, we spoke with Dr. Suzanne Friedler, a board-certified dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC in New York City.
Eczema: Whats The Best Treatment For You
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.
- Prevent flares.
- Prevent infections.
The right treatment for you depends on your age, medical history, how bad your symptoms are, and other things. Youâll 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.
What Do I Need To Know About Immunosuppressants Used To Treat Eczema
- Not specifically approved to treat eczema sometimes used off-label for moderate-to-severe eczema.
- Sometimes used as an alternative to phototherapy.
- Very strong medications, developed for chemotherapy and to prevent organ rejection after transplants.
- Require short-term use and regular blood test monitoring by a doctor.Side effects may include blood pressure and kidney or liver problems.
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Natural Treatments At Home
Aside from moisturizing your skin, some natural treatments may help heal your skin.
Oatmeal baths are one type of natural treatment that can soothe the itchiness and discomfort of eczema rashes. Be sure to use lukewarm water and follow up with a moisturizer immediately after.
What Do I Need To Know About Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors Used To Treat Eczema
- Topical calcineurin inhibitors are an alternative to topical corticosteroids, when skin is being damaged or there is concern about overuse of steroids.
- They are approved for adults and children age 2 and up.
- They may be used 2-4 times weekly as maintenance/preventive treatment.
- When used, you need to avoid sunlight and sunlamps calcineurin inhibitors may cause skin to be more sensitive to light.
- They may cause skin pain , especially when applied to acutely inflamed skin.
- Topical calcineurin inhibitors have an FDA warning. They may increase risk of skin cancer and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The American Academy of Dermatology says this risk applies to oral forms of the medication taken at high doses for long periods of time the risk is lower with limited topical use.
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First How Is Eczema Treated
Eczema is a chronic conditionmeaning those who have it will battle to manage symptoms their whole life. It affects 31 million people in the United States, according to Cleveland Clinic. There is no cure for eczema, an inflammatory skin condition characterized by itchy, dry skin that is prone to rashes and skin infections, so the goal of is to calm any flares and prevent new ones from happening. Dr. Ceilly says that when people first experience eczema symptoms, they often try dozens of OTC lotions, creams, diets, and supplements before even seeing a dermatologist for a diagnosis.
First-line treatments usually start with topical OTC hydrocortisone creamslow-potency steroids that work on the skin by reducing irritation, itching, and inflammation. If the itching and redness dont go away, the next step is to see a board-certified dermatologist to start a treatment plan that may include stronger medications. Patients with eczema that have not responded to the over-the counter cortisone creams or moisturizers require a prescription for higher potency topical steroids, says Amitha Harish, M.D., an allergist-immunologist with Southern New Hampshire Asthma and Allergy in Nashua, NH.
Why Is It Important To Treat Varicose Eczema
Not only is varicose eczema uncomfortable, but it can quickly lead to a much bigger problem: varicose ulcers. Skin affected by varicose eczema is thin and unhealthy and can easily break down. If left untreated, a small hole can appear and become deeper and wider over time. This can lead to a buildup of bacteria, making your eczema even worse and leading to serious infection.
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What Do I Need To Know About Pde4 Inhibitors Used To Treat Eczema
- PDE4 inhibitors are approved to treat mild-to-moderate eczema in adults and children ages 2 and up.
- PDE4 inhibitors work differently than other topical treatments such as corticosteroid ointments and calcineurin inhibitors.
- PDE4 is produced by cells in our immune system and helps the body regulate inflammation.
What Do I Need To Know About Biologics Used To Treat Eczema
- Dupixent is administered by injection every 14 days.
- Dupixent is approved for adults and children ages 6 months and older to uncontrolled moderate-to-severe eczema.
- Dupixent can be used with or without topical corticosteroid creams or ointments.
- Biologic medications are expensive and are not always covered by insurance.
- There is a risk of eye-related side effects.
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What Should I Do If My Baby Has Weeping Eczema
If your babys eczema starts to weep, call your healthcare provider so they can help get it under control. To ease symptoms, you can apply steroid cream or ointments. You may also want to consider giving your baby antihistamines for a few days to relieve itching.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Typical eczema is itchy and inconvenient. But when it begins to weep, it becomes a more serious health problem. If you develop weeping eczema, schedule a visit with your healthcare provider right away. Timely treatment will clear up your infection and reduce painful symptoms so you can get back to normal life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/29/2021.
- Johnson BB, Franco AI, Beck LA, Prezzano JC. Treatment-resistant atopic dermatitis: challenges and solutions. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2019 Mar 21 12:181-192. Accessed 11/26/2021.
- Makrgeorgou A, Leonardi-Bee J, Bath-Hextall FJ, et al. Probiotics for treating eczema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Nov 21 11:CD006135. Accessed 11/26/2021.
- National Eczema Association. Multiple pages were reviewed for this article. An Overview of the Different Types of Eczema. Accessed 11/26/2021.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy
When Should You See A Dermatologist
If your eczema is painful or the itch isn’t getting any better, see a dermatologist for treatment.
Its never a bad idea to consult your dermatologist about your skin, particularly if you have questions or concerns about a condition. If your eczema is painful or youre having difficulty controlling the dryness or itchiness, thats the time to lean on your doctor. For the itch, your dermatologist may suggest you try an over-the-counter antihistamine, like Allegra or Zyrtec, or they may prescribe you steroid or steroid-free topical products that can calm down the rash more effectively than a normal moisturizer.
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How To Use Your Emollients To Get The Best Results
Regular application indicates a minimum of twice-daily application, which can be increased depending on the dryness of the skin, exposure to daily irritants and current level of eczema-related symptoms. Another way to maximise benefits from your emollients and prevent contamination is to get a product that comes with a pump on top, or use a single-use wooden spatula to get the emollient out of the tub. For maximum comfort following application, it is recommended to apply the emollient in small patches and rub it in either in the direction of the body hair growth or in a downward motion to avoid irritation of the hair follicles.
Something that many studies on the long-term use of emollients have concluded is that it is essential to continue regular application of the emollients even when the skin appears clear and is asymptomatic. This helps to maintain a good skin barrier and effectively prevent eczema. These studies also observe that people often forget to apply such regular emollients when they are not experiencing symptoms and this often contributes to exacerbations later on.
Eczema Coping Tips Reducing Skin Irritation
People with eczema have sensitive skin. Irritants such as heat or detergents can easily trigger a bout of eczema.Suggestions for reducing skin irritation include:
- Avoid overheating your skin. Wear several layers of clothing that you can remove, as required, instead of one heavy layer. Dont put too many blankets on your bed and avoid doonas.
- Dont use perfumed bubble bath or bath products labelled medicated.
- Wear soft, smooth materials next to your skin, preferably 100% cotton. Avoid scratchy materials, such as pure wool, polyester or acrylic. You could try a cotton and synthetic mix material this is fine for some people with eczema. Remove labels from clothing.
- Always wear protective gloves when using any type of chemical or detergent. You may want to wear cotton gloves inside rubber or PVC gloves.
- Avoid chlorinated pools. If you have to swim in a chlorinated pool, moisturise your skin well when you get out.
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What Is The Difference: Nummular Eczema Vs Ringworm
Ringworm and nummular eczema both cause circular patches on your skin. But the causes and treatments are different.
Ringworm is a contagious skin infection caused by a fungus. Nummular dermatitis is a type of eczema rather than a fungal infection. Ringworm tends to appear as one or two patches on your skin, but nummular eczema often causes multiple patches.
Is nummular eczema a fungus?
Nummular dermatitis isnt a fungus, and its not contagious.
Eczema Symptoms In People Of Color
In People of Color, an eczema rash may appear gray or brown. This can make outbreaks harder to see.
However, People of Color who get eczema may also get dark or light skin patches even after eczema symptoms go away. These can last a long time. Doctors call these patches hyperpigmentation and depigmentation or hypopigmentation.
A dermatologist can evaluate these patches, which may respond to treatments like steroid creams.
The following atopic dermatitis symptoms are common in babies under the age of 2:
- rashes on the scalp and cheeks
- rashes that bubble up before leaking fluid
- rashes that can cause extreme itchiness, which may interfere with sleeping
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Eczema Remedies For Children
About 10% to 20% of infants develop eczema, with the rash typically appearing on the face and scalp. In most cases, this condition improves after age five and may disappear for good.
Medical experts believe itâs a genetic condition or passed from parents to their kids. Symptoms can vary depending on the age of the child.
In more severe cases, infants can develop eczema on uncommon areas like the torso, elbows, and knees. Children and teens will notice the rash in the inner elbows, behind the knees, on the neck, or wrists and ankles. The skin may appear drier, thicker, and develop a scaly texture.
There are some steps you can take to treat your child’s eczema or prevent future flare-ups:
- Avoid skincare products with heavy fragrances and other possible irritants.
- Cut your childâs fingernails and encourage them to wear gloves to prevent skin damage from excessive scratching.
- Maintain a routine of bathing, moisturizing, and applying age-appropriate treatments recommended by a pediatrician. Ask your doctor about the âsoak and sealâ method.
- Talk to a pediatrician or dermatologist about the benefits of oatmeal baths or bleach baths to reduce inflammation and discourage bacterial growth.
- Boost the effectiveness of any topical medication and rehydrate the skin by using wet wrap therapy. This can also prevent your child from scratching their skin.
How To Treat Eczema At Home
Tips from board-certified dermatologists
ROSEMONT, Ill. Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition affecting 1 in 10 Americans. Patients with eczema often experience itchy, dry, raw, and sensitive patches of skin, which greatly impacts their quality of life. As we wrap up Eczema Awareness Month, board-certified dermatologists provide easy steps you can take at home to ease your symptoms.
Eczema can be very bothersome and challenging for patients, said board-certified dermatologist John Browning, MD, FAAD, assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. While eczema cannot be cured, proper treatment can control it. Since everyones skin is unique, a board-certified dermatologist can help each patient develop an effective self-care and medical treatment plan to manage their eczema.
To relieve discomfort from eczema, Dr. Browning recommends that patients follow these tips.
If youre unsure how often to bathe, moisturize, or choose products with your eczema, contact your dermatologist.
Self-care can help control your eczema and help you live more comfortably, said Dr. Browning. Dermatologists know whats causing your skin issue and the best ways to treat it. Let your dermatologist know the self-care tips that are helping you and which ones are not working so they can adjust your medical treatment plan to address those challenges.
To find a board-certified dermatologist in your area, visit aad.org/findaderm.
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Are There Home Remedies For Weeping Eczema
Because weeping eczema is infection-related, the only thing that will clear it up completely is prescription medication. However, there are some things you can do at home to ease your symptoms. Weeping eczema home remedies include:
- Probiotics: Research suggests that topical probiotics may help reduce the severity of eczema symptoms.
- Natural oils: Coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower seed oil all protect and restore the skin. They also help reduce inflammation.
- Vitamins and supplements: Fatty acids such as black currant seed and evening primrose are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 can also help improve common eczema symptoms.
- Colloidal oatmeal bath: This remedy helps soothe and relieve dry, itchy skin caused by eczema.
- Diluted bleach bath: Adding a very small amount of bleach to your bathwater can help kill bacteria on your skin. In turn, this can reduce redness, itching and scaling. When properly diluted and used sparingly, bleach baths are safe. Talk to your healthcare provider before incorporating bleach baths into your regimen.
Bacterial Treatments For Eczema
While scientists still dont know exactly what causes atopic dermatitis, they have been exploring the role that the microbiome may play in the disease. People with eczema have unusually high amounts of harmful bacteria on their skin and lower than normal levels of good bacteria.
A potential new approach to treating eczema involves using good bacteria to kill pathogenic bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, which is commonly found in large quantities on the skin of people with eczema and is known to cause symptom flare-ups. Though such treatments are not yet available to the public, preliminary research is encouraging.
An early study published in JCI Insight found that more than half of a small group of adults treated with Roseomonas mucosa in a spray form experienced improvement in their eczema, with some reporting that they needed less steroid cream to manage their symptoms.
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Why Does Eczema Appear On The Hands
There can be a variety of reasons why eczema appears on the hands. For example, the hands can be affected by irritant or allergic contact dermatitis or both at the same time.
Coming into contact with irritants such as dust, detergents, cleaning agents, airborne sprays or even just frequent hand-washing can cause irritant hand eczema . The skin on the palms of the hands is much thicker than elsewhere on the body and is normally able to withstand a great deal of wear and tear. But in people who regularly immerse their hands in detergents or solvents, the protective barrier of the skin breaks down, and eczema may develop. People who have this form of hand eczema often have a history of eczema in childhood.
Allergic hand eczema arises as a result of an allergic reaction to a particular substance in the environment. It is possible to be allergic to a number of different substances, but common causes of contact sensitivity include nickel, fragrances, preservative chemicals, rubber and various plants, amongst other things. Once a persons immune system has identified a substance as harmful, they will react to the substance every time their skin is exposed to it, and this reaction becomes more severe on every exposure to the allergen.
When an allergic reaction of this kind is suspected, your GP should refer you to a dermatologist, who will normally perform patch tests to try to identify the allergic cause.
Are Baths A Good Treatment For Eczema
Eczema is more than just dry skin. Flares erupt unpredictably: dry, scaly, irritated spots on the face or hands, or inside the crease of the elbow or knee. The itch is almost unbearable and scratching makes it worse, resulting in what feels like an endless cycle.
Eczema has no cure, so preventing and managing flare-ups becomes a priority. The trick is figuring out how to get moisture back into the skin and keep it there. Slathering on moisturizer by itself usually wont do it neither will simply soaking in a bath.
In fact, some people think bathing dries out the skin and makes it worse. We all know how frequent hand-washing dries out the hands. The reason for this is not the water itself, however, but the soaps we use and the fact that we often just wash and dry forgetting to add a moisturizer to seal in the water.
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