Even today, there is still no specific treatment for this type of eczema, but there are treatment options that can alleviate the symptoms. Several children have symptoms that naturally subside as they get older.
Commonly used treatment for atopic eczema
- Topical corticosteroids whether in ointment or cream form are utilized to minimize the swelling and redness that occurs during flare-ups
- Emollients or moisturizers must be used daily to prevent the skin from drying up
- Topical tacrolimus or pimecrolimus for eczema in sensitive parts of the body that do not respond to the simple treatment options
- Antihistamine for severe itchiness
- Specialized body suits and bandages to allow the body to heal
Eczema can be itchy and it can be tempting to scratch the affected areas. Remember though that scratching can damage the skin which aggravates the condition. The skin thickens into a leathery texture due to chronic scratching. Constant scratching can cause bleeding and increases the risk for infection and scarring.
Try to minimize scratching if possible. An option is to gently rub the skin using the fingers instead. For infants, anti-scratch mittens can be used. Always keep the nails short and clean to reduce damage to the skin from unintentional scratching.
Certain foods such as cow’s milk and eggs can trigger symptoms. Always consult a doctor first before making any changes in the diet. In most cases, the individual is referred to a dietitian to work out a suitable diet plan to avoid reactions while at the same time ensuring the right nutrition is obtained.
What are emollients?
Emollients are directly applied to the skin to reduce water loss as well as provide a protective layer. These are often used to help deal with dry or scaly skin issues. Aside from ensuring moisture is locked in the skin, it also has a minor anti-inflammatory effect and can even minimize the frequency of flare-ups.
Among those who have inflamed and sore skin, the doctor might prescribe a topical corticosteroid which works by reducing the inflammation for a few days.
These medications can be given in varying strengths depending on the severity of the atopic eczema and the areas affected. In most cases, it should be applied once a day with the following considerations in mind:
- Apply the emollient first and wait for about 30 minutes until it is completely soaked into the skin or apply the corticosteroid at a different time.
- Apply the prescribed amount on the affected area
- Continue to use until 48 hours after a flare-up has subsided so that the inflammation under the skin is dealt with.
Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine in the body. These medications help reduce the itchiness linked with atopic eczema. Remember that some have sedative effects that cause drowsiness while others do not.
Wet wraps and bandages
In some cases, the doctor might recommend wet wraps or medicated bandages that are placed on areas of skin affected by atopic eczema. These can be used after the application of emollients or with topical corticosteroids to limit scratching, allow the skin to heal as well as prevent the skin from drying out.