Eczema: Treatment Options

Treatment for eczema depends on the symptoms and factors which trigger the symptoms. Managing eczema/atopic dermatitis generally involves:

  1. Prevention: Identifying and avoiding triggers
  2. Skin care: Using moisturizing creams/ointments to maintain skin moisture as dry skin worsens itching.
  3. Medications: Reduce symptoms using over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications.

OTC medications

Several OTC emollients which may or may not contain steroid (cortisone) are available. Emollients provide a layer of fat over the skin surface which helps to reduce water loss and moisturize the skin, as well as heal the skin from within.

Greasy emollients work better on dry skin. Emollients with more creamy textures are ideal for red, inflamed skin. Avoid emollients containing fragrances and preservatives as these may act as possible triggers.

Apply the emollient 2-3 times daily or as soon as your skin gets dry. Apply more frequently in dry climate or if using air conditioning. Apply before and after swimming or bathing when the skin is still moist. Ensure you use adequate quantities of emollients; this is roughly 100-200g/week in children and 200-300 g/week in adults.

Prescription medications

Your doctor may prescribe topical corticosteroids (TCS) and topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCI) for your atopic dermatitis. Both medications reduce the body’s immune response to allergens and bring down inflammation.

Systemic medicines which alter the immune response are prescribed to patients with moderate to severe eczema that does not respond to topical therapy. These include corticosteroids, cyclosporine A, methotrexate, azathioprine and mycophenolate mofetil.

Other therapies

These include:

  • Phototherapy – treatment using a certain type of light administered 2 to 3 times a week
  • Wet dressings/wet wraps – open-weave bandages applied over topical medicines, with a damp bottom layer in contact with the skin and a dry layer on top
  • Topical and oral biological agents – these have been recently approved for the treatment of atopic dermatitis
  • Topical and systemic antibiotics – prescribed if bacterial infection is suspected
  • Antihistamines with sedative effect – prescribed to patients with severe itch resulting in sleep disturbances

Consult your dermatologist for more information on treatment options for eczema/atopic dermatitis.

Shop at Watsons for eczema/atopic dermatitis treatments and other essential healthcare needs.



Reference: Accessed 18 April 2022

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