Eczema Treatments

How Is Eczema Treated?

Emollients (for washing and moisturising) are the main stay of eczema management. Emollients are available as leave–on medical moisturisers (lotions, creams and ointments) and wash products (soap substitutes and bath and shower preparations).

Emollients are a type of moisturiser that form a protective layer on top of the skin. This protective layer is very important because in atopic eczema the skin barrier is faulty, unlike the resilient normal skin barrier. Using complete emollient therapy

  1. helps prevent the penetration of irritants and allergens and
  2. keeps moisture within the skin, repairing the skin barrier and preventing dry skin and cracks

To apply the leave-on emollient:

  • Apply leave-on emollient all over the skin at least 2-3 times daily, even when your eczema isn’t that bad.
  • Use gentle downward strokes in the direction of the hair growth.
  • Use generous amounts to cover the entire body, not just where you see patches of eczema.

Adults should use an average of 500-600g of emollient per week, while children should use an average of 250-500g, in cases where the eczema covers the whole body.

As advised in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for managing atopic eczema in children, people with eczema need to follow a complete emollient routine. As well as using a leave on emollient cream, emollient washes should replace all soaps and detergents. Soap can dry out the skin and make the eczema worse.

For mild eczema, a complete emollient routine alone may be enough to keep it under control, but when eczema flares-up, additional treatments may be necessary.

If red and inflamed skin develops from an eczema flare-up, a healthcare professional may prescribe a topical steroid cream (topical means it’s applied to the skin). Topical steroid creams work by quickly reducing inflammation. The doctor will give advice on how frequently to apply them—most people need to apply them just once a day. Steroid creams should only be used on the areas of active eczema. The use of emollients should be continued, but a gap of at least 20 minutes should be left between putting on the emollient cream and the topical steroid.

Other topical treatments may include topical calcineurin inhibitors (which, like steroids, help supress eczema), antibiotic tablets (for widespread infection) and antibiotic creams (for small areas of infection).

If treatments are not helping, don’t stop using them and don’t just use more—go back and talk to the doctor as soon as possible. Additional prescription medication is available for severe cases of eczema, please ask a doctor.

How Long Should Eczema Be Treated?

Emollients should be used at least twice daily as well as the complete emollient routine, even between flare-ups and when there are no symptoms. Treatment should only be stopped if a doctor advises you to do so.

Is There A Cure For Eczema?

Unfortunately there is no cure. However, by

  • moisturising regularly
  • identifying and avoiding triggers where possible
  • treating eczema flare-ups when they happen

most people are able to manage and control their eczema.

What is the Eczema Advice Programme about?
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