Eczema, also called dermatitis, is a chronic inflammation of the skin. People with this condition have dry, crusted, itchy skin. Eczema can’t be cured, but there are many treatments available to help you manage the symptoms, ranging from home remedies to medical treatments. Here are four treatments for eczema.
The dry skin associated with eczema occurs because your skin fails to retain water, not because your skin doesn’t have enough grease or oil. Using moisturizer on a regular basis (several times a day) can help you deal with this problem as moisturizer both makes your skin more hydrated and improves its barrier, which keeps moisture locked in. If you’re not sure which type of moisturizer you should be using, ask your dermatologist to recommend a suitable product.
For maximum results, the National Eczema Foundation recommends taking a quick bath or shower to get water into your skin first, and then immediately applying moisturizer. It’s best to do this at night since your skin won’t dry out any further while you’re sleeping, which gives the moisturizer more time to work. If possible, you should also apply moisturizer to your hands every time you wash them.
If moisturizing regularly isn’t enough to control your symptoms, your dermatologist may prescribe a medicated cream. These creams contain corticosteroids, a drug that fights inflammation and can help calm the itching sensation. Medium to high-potency corticosteroid creams are an effective treatment for eczema.
Generally, these creams need to be used once or twice a day, though your dermatologist may recommend a different schedule based on your individual symptoms. Since corticosteroids can lead to side effects like thinning skin or redness, they can’t be used indefinitely, but they can be used for short-term control of your symptoms.
Wet dressings, also known as wet wraps, can be used to control severe eczema that isn’t improved by other treatments. Wet dressings are moistened bandages that are applied to your affected skin. These dressings are hard to apply, so they’re usually applied in a hospital setting. However, your dermatologist can teach you how to use them at home.
Before wet dressings are applied, the skin is first coated with emollients or corticosteroid creams. Next, wet bandages are wrapped around the affected skin. Dry bandages are then wrapped around the wet bandages so that your clothes and furniture don’t get wet.
This treatment works in multiple ways. The wet bandages cool your skin, and this helps to ease your itching and inflammation. This technique also ensures that the creams soak into your skin more effectively. Another benefit of wet dressings is that you can’t scratch your itchy skin while it’s covered in bandages, so your skin can heal.
Phototherapy, also known as light treatment, can be used when other treatments don’t work. This treatment exposes you to ultraviolet light in a safe and controlled environment.
During this treatment, you’ll need to stand inside a walk-in cabinet filled with fluorescent lights; this looks similar to a stand-up tanning bed. At first, you’ll only stand in the cabinet for short intervals (less than one minute), but over time, you’ll work up to larger doses. In severe cases, as many as 40 sessions may be required to control symptoms.
This treatment works by suppressing your immune system, which reduces the inflammation in your skin. However, just like the real sun, it can cause sunburns and dry skin. Your dermatologist will carefully time your sessions to try to minimize this discomfort.
If you have dry, itchy skin, see your dermatologist immediately or visit a site like http://ADCderm.com for more information. You may have eczema, a chronic condition that can be managed in many ways.