How is eczema treated?
The first-line treatment for mild eczema is emollient creams. Emollients are moisturizing creams that help the skin repair itself. Following this, a steroid cream can be tried. Steroid creams contain corticosteroids and come in a range of different strengths. Your doctor will prescribe a strength that is appropriate for the severity of your eczema. If the steroid cream you have been prescribed does not adequately treat your eczema, your doctor will prescribe you a more intense cream. Corticosteroids are also available in ointments, lotions, and shampoos if an alternative preparation is required (e.g. a shampoo would be most appropriate for seborrheic eczema affecting the scalp).
Can eczema be cured?
There is no cure for eczema, but there are several treatments available, including emollients and steroid creams. Some people do grow out of eczema as they get older, so you may find that your eczema goes away over time.
How eczema resolves
An Eczema flare will generally resolve if the area is shielded from further irritation. Emollients work by preventing the skin from drying out, and steroid creams help to reduce the swelling and redness during a flare-up.
What to do when eczema starts
When you first start experiencing eczema symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist. Depending upon the type of eczema and the severity of your condition, they will probably prescribe you emollients and steroid creams. It is also a good idea to identify any possible eczema triggers such as allergens or stress.
What to do when eczema flares up
When eczema flares up, you should use the treatment you have been prescribed, usually both emollients and steroid creams. If you do not have any medication left, you should order more or request a new prescription. You should try to avoid scratching the affected area to reduce the chances of infection.
What to do when eczema is healing
You should continue with treatment as your eczema heals and for a few days after the symptoms have resolved. As your eczema is healing, it can be tempting to scratch or pick at your skin. You should avoid doing this as much as possible, because this interferes with the healing process and can lead to scarring and infection.
What to do when eczema starts to peel
Some types of eczema can cause the skin to peel. This can be mild, like the peeling after sunburn, or more severe revealing raw skin underneath. It is important that you continue with your eczema treatment as prescribed, but if you feel your eczema has worsened, you may want to discuss this with your doctor.
What to do when eczema becomes infected
Eczema is vulnerable to infection, especially if the skin is broken. Symptoms of infection include:
a yellow crust over the affected area, liquid coming from the wound, swelling, inflammation, fever and chills. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Depending upon the type and severity of infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics or even admitted to the hospital.
What to do when eczema won't go away
Not all treatments are effective. Sometimes, it can take a while to find the treatment that works best for you. If your eczema symptoms don’t subside within two weeks of treatment, you should return to your doctor, as there may be stronger treatments that they can prescribe.
What to do when eczema turns into blisters
Several types of eczema can produce blisters. This includes dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, atopic dermatitis, and contact dermatitis. However, the blisters can appear differently in each type of eczema:
- Dyshidrotic eczema produces a type of blister known as a vesicle. These are small fluid-filled blisters, less than 1cm in diameter. In dyshidrotic eczema, the vesicles may be individual or clustered together.
- Nummular eczema is characterized by round patches of reddened skin. In some people, these patches can be covered in small blisters.
- Atopic dermatitis blisters tend to be small but may join together to create larger blisters.
- Contact dermatitis blisters can vary in size but could be quite large if the reaction is severe.
If you experience eczema blisters, you should avoid anything that may break the skin. This includes itching, scratching, rubbing, bursting, or piercing the blister. Breaking the skin increases the healing time and increases the chance of infection and scarring.
Which eczema cream is best?
The best eczema cream for you depends upon the type of eczema you experience and how severe it is. Your doctor will always try to prescribe the weakest effective treatment for your condition. This is because steroid creams can produce side effects, and the stronger the medication, the greater risk of side effects. It can take a while to find the best treatment for your eczema, so if you find that your treatment is not having an effect after 2-3 weeks, you should speak to your doctor. They may be able to prescribe something more effective.
Will eczema go away on its own?
Most people need to use some treatment to get rid of eczema during a flare-up, but there is no known eczema cure. Eczema usually recurs once you have had it; however, some people do grow out of eczema as they get older.
How to treat eczema without steroids
If you only have mild eczema, it may be treated with emollient creams. If emollients are not effective, steroid creams are the best option. A doctor will always help you weigh up the risks and benefits of a treatment before prescribing.
Eczema and diet
Some food allergies can trigger a flare-up of eczema, but they do not cause the condition itself. The following allergies or intolerances are associated with eczema:
- Soy products
- Fish & shellfish
It may be a good idea to avoid some of these foods if you notice an association between them and your eczema flare-ups.
There is limited evidence to suggest that certain foods can help to reduce eczema flare-ups, but the following foods may help to reduce flare-ups of eczema:
- Fish high in omega-3, such as haddock and salmon
- Foods high in quercetin, such as apples, blueberries, broccoli and spinach
- Foods containing probiotics, such as sourdough, kefir, and soft cheese.