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Treatments

Why doesn’t the National Eczema Society recommend products?

The National Eczema Society has a policy of not recommending any products because eczema is such an individual condition and a product that one patient may find very suitable for them can prove to be something that makes another person’s eczema much worse.

In addition, products such as emollients and sunscreens come in different formulas and individual preference determines whether a cream, ointment, oil or lotion is the most acceptable. Unfortunately, there is no one emollient or sunscreen that suits everyone’s eczema.

The question also allows us to explain that our emollient product list is not a list of recommendations. It is a list of emollients that are either available on prescription or where the manufacturer has provided us with a list of ingredients, research information and, where appropriate, the results of properly conducted clinical trials.

Is there a cure for eczema?

Unfortunately at present there is no cure for eczema but it can be well managed.

What are the main treatments for managing eczema?

There are a number of ways to manage eczema, all of which begin with an effective skin care routine. Having access to accurate information is important as this allows the person with eczema, or their carer, to make informed choices when managing the condition. The following are main treatments used to help manage eczema.

Emollients

Emollient is the medical term for a non-cosmetic moisturiser. Emollients are necessary to reduce water loss from skin, preventing the dryness normally associated with eczema. By providing a seal or barrier, the skin is less dry, itchy and more comfortable.

Emollients are safe to use as often as is necessary and are available as lotions, creams, gels and ointments. Ointments are preferable for very dry skin, creams and lotions are lighter and suitable for mild to moderate eczema, and are particularly suitable for ‘weeping eczema’.

Gels are heavier than creams but not as thick as ointments. We have more information about emollients and how to use them on our Emollients page.

Topical Steroids

When the eczema is under control the continued use of emollients are all that is needed. However, when the eczema flares up and the skin becomes inflamed, a steroid cream or ointment may be required.

Topical steroids act by reducing inflammation and are used in most types of eczema and should not be confused with the steroids used by body-builders. Topical steroids come in four different potencies, mild, moderate, potent and very potent and are also available in different strengths.

The strength and potency of steroid cream/ointment that a doctor or nurse prescribes depends on the age of the patient, the severity of the condition, the part of the body to be treated and the size of the area of eczema to be treated.

The doctor/nurse will also take into account any other medication being taken. Topical steroids are applied to the affected area, as directed by the prescribing doctor/nurse.

Many people have concerns regarding the use of topical steroids and their side effects. As long as steroids are used appropriately and as directed by your doctor/nurse, the likelihood of side effects is very rare. Reported side effects have been largely due to the use of very potent steroid preparations over long periods of time. More information can be found on our Topical Corticosteroids page.

Treatments...