The key to staying healthy while living with eczema is to keep symptoms under control. For most types of eczema, managing the condition and its symptoms comes down to these basics:
- Know your triggers
- Implement a regular bathing and moisturizing routine
- Use OTC and/or prescription medication consistently and as prescribed
- Watch for signs of infection — pus-filled bumps, pain, redness, heat — on the skin
Some other things you can do to help manage eczema symptoms:
However, some people find that even when they do all the “right” things, their eczema still flares. Eczema can be an unpredictable disease, and there is much still to learn about it. Having an eczema flare “out of the blue” is common and can happen despite your best efforts.
Download our fact sheet on the basics of eczema skin care.
What treatments and medications are available for eczema?
There is no cure for eczema but there are treatments, and more are coming. Depending on the type of eczema and severity, treatments include lifestyle changes, over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, prescription topical, oral and injectable medications, phototherapy and biologic drugs.
Remember that eczema symptoms can be different for everyone. Not everyone will respond to a treatment in the same way, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with all of the options and talk to your doctor to find a treatment regimen that works for you.
Common eczema treatments
Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments are products or medications you can buy without a prescription. Some OTC eczema treatments are used for moisturizing skin; some are used to help skin symptoms such as rash, redness and itch; and some are for gently cleaning skin to prevent infection.
Explore OTC products that earned the NEA Seal of Acceptance.
The most effective way to treat dry skin is to give it the moisture it needs through proper bathing and moisturizing. Soak in a warm bath or take a shower and then moisturize immediately afterward (within three minutes). You can help calm specific symptoms of eczema by adding bleach, vinegar, salt, oatmeal or baking soda to your bath water.
Learn more about bathing as a treatment for eczema.
When your skin gets too dry, it can become irritated and cause your eczema to flare. Wind, low humidity, cold temperatures, harsh soaps and too much washing without the use of a moisturizer immediately after, all can lead to dry skin.
Many people with eczema have drier-than-normal skin due to an imbalance in the topmost protective layer of skin called the skin barrier. When functioning normally, our skin barrier helps keep irritants and allergens out and moisture in. That’s why bathing and properly moisturizing to maintain a healthy skin barrier are key to help control your eczema symptoms. It’s important to understand how and when to properly moisturize, and which products are best to use when you have eczema.
Learn more about moisturizing as a treatment for eczema.
Prescription topical medications include corticosteroids (steroids), PDE4 inhibitors, topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs) and skin barrier creams. Available through your doctor, these medications are applied to the affected area of the skin to help ease redness, rash, dryness and itching.
Learn more about prescription topicals as a treatment for eczema.
In phototherapy, a special machine is used to emit narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) light onto the skin in order to help reduce itching and inflammation, increase vitamin D production and bacteria-fighting systems in the skin.
Learn more about phototherapy as a treatment for eczema.
The root cause of atopic dermatitis is still not fully known. However, it is known that the immune system goes haywire and causes inflammation in the skin. This inflammation can cause some symptoms of atopic dermatitis such as itching and redness. For moderate to severe cases of atopic dermatitis, your doctor may prescribe a systemic medication to stop your immune system from overreacting.
Learn more about systemics as a treatment for eczema.
Biologic drugs or “biologics” target a particular piece of the immune system reaction that contributes to atopic dermatitis symptoms. They contain genetically engineered proteins derived from human genes and are administered intravenously (through the vein) as infusions to target specific parts of the immune system that trigger inflammation.
Learn more about biologics as a treatment for eczema.
Complementary and alternative therapies
Studies have shown that certain complementary and alternative therapies can be beneficial in controlling the symptoms of eczema. These include some supplements, plant-based topicals such as coconut oils, meditation and biofeedback.
Learn more about complementary and alternative treatments for eczema.