What is the Best Eczema Treatment?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Eczema is not a single condition. While the hallmark of most eczema conditions is itchy rash, there is no one good treatment for all types, though treatment may be similar. It’s better to understand the different types of rash conditions that might be called eczema, and their standard treatments.

Creams can be used to treat eczema.
Creams can be used to treat eczema.

One of the most common types of eczema is also called atopic dermatitis, which may occur on any part of the body including face and hands. Some people over time will recover from this condition and no longer get it, but about 50% of people who develop it as children still get in on their hands as adults. It usually presents in outbreaks, and the standard eczema treatment methods for this form of dermatitis include use of moisturizers, topical corticosteroids applied to the skin, and allergy testing to make certain the rash isn’t caused by allergies. Some people with this condition may benefit from phototherapy to prevent outbreaks or minimize them.

Eczema is an irritating, itchy rash on the skin.
Eczema is an irritating, itchy rash on the skin.

A rash that may be similar is contact dermatitis, but its causal factor is usually longterm exposure to an irritant. Eczema treatment for contact dermatitis may include use of steroid creams, and/or oral steroids. Most important is avoiding the allergen, so allergy testing can also be helpful. Antihistamines may help reduce discomfort and allergic response and may be indicated too.

Antihistamines may help alleviate discomfort caused by eczema.
Antihistamines may help alleviate discomfort caused by eczema.

Some people suffer from dishydrotic or hand eczema. This causes rash that develops on the hands and is severely itchy. It can over time lead to much peeling of the skin on the hands, and the itch may also burn. Standard hand eczema treatment can include use of topical corticosteroids, the possible draining of large blisters on the hands, several types of anti-itch medicines and potentially oral steroids to reduce inflammatory response.

Some people suffer from dishydrotic or hand eczema, which causes a rash that develops on the hands and is severely itchy.
Some people suffer from dishydrotic or hand eczema, which causes a rash that develops on the hands and is severely itchy.

Neurodermatitis or lichen simplex chronicus describes a type of eczema that creates a difficult “itch/scratch” cycle. What really occurs here is that nerve endings in the skin create an extreme itch response, and then scratching the skin actually makes the itch worse. Scratching may also result in open sores so chance of infection is high. The eczema treatment prescribed for this condition includes giving topical anti-itch medicines, and oral antibiotics may be needed if skin breaks and becomes infected. Sometimes people require sedatives to promote better sleep at night and so they won’t scratch and aggravate the pattern.

Medical workers sometimes develop eczema on their hands due to frequent use of latex gloves.
Medical workers sometimes develop eczema on their hands due to frequent use of latex gloves.

Nummular dermatitis or discoid eczema causes round patches to emerge on the skin that can be itchy and very drying to the skin. These may be helped by daily bathing to keep the skin clean and moist. Other types of discoid eczema treatment may involve using topical steroids, ultraviolet light therapy and antihistamines at night to aid in sleep.

Topical corticosteroids are useful in treating eczema flareups.
Topical corticosteroids are useful in treating eczema flareups.

Occupational eczema often develops when people are allergic to substances they use all the time. This could include things like latex gloves. It’s important to confirm potential allergens or irritating substances because part of treating this condition is making sure these substances are avoided in the future. Occupation eczema treatment also works to clear the areas that have produce rash or that itch, and this may be done with anti-itch topical creams, with oral or topical steroids, and with antihistamines when needed.

Stasis dermatitis may be known by the name venous eczema. It results from poor circulation in the legs and may cause symptoms like swelling in the legs, itching, open sores, thin skin, and then dry or oozing patches on the legs that can easily become infected. Venous eczema treatment takes several approaches. First, people need to keep legs elevated at night and they may use compression stockings during the day. People may also require treatment for congestive heart failure, like diuretics and anticoagulation meds, and the rash itself may be treated with topical steroids and topical antibiotics.

Given the numerous types of eczema, and the variations in treatment, it is valuable to see a dermatologist to get an exact diagnosis of type. It would be dangerous to miss a condition like venous eczema and dismiss it as a rash because this might ignore clear signs of circulatory system impairment. Furthermore, it makes sense when skin rashes occur to do allergy testing in many instances, since sometimes eczema is the direct result of allergy and can clear when allergens are avoided in the future.

Venous eczema patients can improve their circulation by wearing compression stockings during the day.
Venous eczema patients can improve their circulation by wearing compression stockings during the day.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

Ocelot60

@raynbow- I'm sure that your friend is confused, because there are different types of eczema, various levels of severity, and numerous treatment options available.

Because of the complexity of this skin problem, I think that it is important that you advise your friend to seek medical advice to find the best eczema treatment. Seeing a doctor is really the only way that she will be able to get an exact diagnosis and find out the best way to treat it.

If your friend can't get in to see a doctor right away, advise her to purchase a moisturizing lotion for sensitive skin to help to ease her eczema symptoms in the meantime. If she has a lot of redness, flaking, and itching, tell her to buy a tube of over-the-counter cortisone cream. This will also help to make her feel better until a doctor can prescribe a better treatment regimen.

Raynbow

I have a friend who thinks she has eczema, but she is confused with all of the information out there. What is the best advice I can give her to help her get the best treatment for her eczema so she can get it under control before it gets worse?

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