Treatments for eczema
There is no overall cure for eczema. Treatment for the condition aims to heal the affected skin and prevent flaring of the symptoms. Doctors will suggest a plan of treatment based around a patient's age, symptoms and current state of health.
For some people, eczema goes away over time and for others it remains a lifelong condition.
There are numerous things that people with eczema can do to support skin health and alleviate symptoms, such as:7
Taking regular warm baths
Applying moisturizer within 3 min of bathing to "lock in" moisture
Moisturizing every day
Wearing cotton and soft fabrics, avoiding rough, scratchy fibers and tight-fitting clothing
Using mild soap or a non-soap cleanser when washing
Air drying or gently patting skin dry with a towel, rather than rubbing skin dry after bathing
Avoiding rapid changes of temperature and activities that make you sweat (where possible)
Learning individual eczema triggers and avoiding them
Using a humidifier in dry or cold weather
Keeping fingernails short to prevent scratching from breaking skin.
There are several forms of medication that can be prescribed by doctors in order to treat the symptoms of eczema:2
Topical corticosteroid creams and ointments. These are a type of anti-inflammatory medication and should relieve the main symptoms of eczema, such as skin inflammation and itchiness
If ineffective, systemic corticosteroids can be prescribed. These are either injected or taken by mouth, and are only used for short periods of time
Medications to treat fungal and viral infections
Antihistamines that cause drowsiness are often recommended, as these can help to reduce the risk of nighttime scratching
Topical calcineurin inhibitors (a type of drug that suppresses the activities of the immune system) decreases inflammation and helps prevent flares
Barrier repair moisturizers reduce water loss and work to repair the skin
Phototherapy can be prescribed to treat mild to moderate dermatitis. It involves exposure to ultraviolet A or B waves, alone or combined, and the skin will be monitored carefully if they are used.
Even though the condition itself is not presently curable, there should be a particular treatment plan to suit each case. Even after an area of skin has healed it is important to keep looking after it, as it may easily become irritated again.
Probiotics and atopic dermatitis
Multistrain probiotics (friendly bacteria) have been shown to influence immunity and gastrointestinal conditions which may affect sensitization to allergens.
A panel convened by The World Allergy Organization (WAO) to develop evidence-based recommendations about the use of probiotics in the prevention of allergy found that, although the evidence does not currently support the use of probiotics to reduce the risk of developing allergy in children, it does suggest that probiotics can help prevent eczema. In particular the WAO recommend probiotic use for the following groups:10
Pregnant women at high risk for having an allergic child
Women who breastfeed infants at high risk of developing allergy
Infants at high risk of developing allergy.