The terms eczema or dermatitis are used to describe certain kinds of inflamed skin conditions including allergic contact dermatitis and nummular dermatitis. Eczema can be red, blistering, oozing, scaly, brownish, or thickened skin and usually itches. A special type is called atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema. Eczema can have many causes, including allergic reactions, friction, prolonged exposure to heat and moisture, or contact with irritants, such as harsh chemicals. A board-certified dermatologist can help determine what’s causing your eczema and recommend an appropriate treatment. There are two major types of eczema: allergic contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis. Atopic Dermatitis is the most common type.
- Creams that help control itching and help repair the skin. Your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid cream or ointment. Apply it as directed, after you moisturize. Overuse of this drug may cause side effects, including thinning skin.
- Drugs to fight infection. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic cream if your skin has a bacterial infection, an open sore or cracks.
- Oral drugs that control inflammation. For more-severe cases, your doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids
- Newer option for severe eczema. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved a new, injectable biologic (monoclonal antibody) called dupilumab (Dupixent). It is used to treat people with severe disease who do not respond well to other treatment options.
- Wet dressings. An effective, intensive treatment for severe atopic dermatitis involves wrapping the affected area with topical corticosteroids and wet bandages. This is often done in a hospital for people with widespread lesion, but you can ask your doctor about learning how to do this technique at home.
- Light therapy is used for people who either don’t get better with topical treatments or who rapidly flare again after treatment. The simplest form of light therapy (phototherapy) involves exposing the skin to controlled amounts of natural sunlight.
- Phototherapy is less commonly used in young children and not given to infants, due to risk of premature aging and cancer.
- Talking with a therapist or other counselor may help people who are embarrassed or frustrated by their skin condition.
- Relaxation, behavior modification and biofeedback for habitual scratching.
Treatment for eczema in babies (infantile eczema) includes:
- Identifying and avoiding skin irritants
- Avoiding extreme temperatures
- Lubricating your baby’s skin with bath oils, creams or ointments