Atopic Dermatitis Treatment

Atopic dermatitis (also called eczema) is a chronic skin condition that affects many people around the world. It is characterized by hypersensitivity, which makes the skin extremely inflamed, itchy, red, dry, and scaly. The cause is not known, but many factors can trigger these symptoms. It may also have a genetic, as well as an allergic component. Babies and young children are commonly affected, but the condition may persist in adulthood. Atopic dermatitis treatment consists of simple home remedies to relieve itching, medications to reduce inflammation, and avoidance of trigger factors.


Medical Treatments for Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a persistent skin condition with symptoms that often come and go. You may need various forms of treatments to control itching and inflammation.

Atopic Dermatitis Medications

  • Corticosteroid creams may help control symptoms of inflammation. Ask your doctor to prescribe a corticosteroid ointment or cream, but be sure not to overuse these topical drugs, which may cause thinning and irritation of the skin.
  • Topical creams containing calcineurin inhibitors like tacrolimus and pimecrolimus act on the immune system to help control itching, reduce flares, and maintain normal function of the skin. These prescription drugs are sometimes used when other treatments fail to control eczema.
  • Antibiotics are used to fight bacterial skin infection. You may need these drugs if you have an open sore or if your skin cracks due to scratching. Oral antibiotics may be recommended for short treatment of an infection.
  • Oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may help reduce itching. These are helpful at bedtime, since they can make you sleepy.
  • Drugs to control inflammation such as oral corticosteroids (prednisone) or corticosteroid injections are effective in controlling inflammation, but must not be used for long periods because of potential side effects.

Atopic Dermatitis Therapies

  • Wet bandages. Wrapping the severely affected area with topical corticosteroids and wet dressings may help control symptoms of eczema within hours to a few days. This is often done in a hospital by a nurse, but you can also ask your doctor to teach you how to apply this at home.
  • Phototherapy. Light therapy involves exposing the skin to natural sunlight. Artificial ultraviolet light (UVA or UVB) may also be used, combined with medications. However, long-term therapy may cause premature aging of the skin and may increase your risk of skin cancer.
  • Treat stress. Counseling may help reduce stress, especially if eczema causes extreme embarrassment or frustration in children and teenagers.
  • Relaxation, biofeedback or behavior modification. These alternative approaches may help reduce habitual scratching.

Infantile Eczema Treatments

Treatment for baby eczema includes:

  • Reducing skin irritations
  • Preventing exposure to extreme temperatures
  • Moisturizing the baby's skin with lotions, creams, bath oils, or ointments

If these home remedies do not help improve your baby's rashes or if the skin looks infected, consult a doctor. A medication may be prescribed to control the rashes and treat infection, if any. Your doctor may also recommend oral antihistamines to reduce itching and discomfort.

Home Remedies for Atopic Dermatitis

1. Wear Loose, Non-Irritating Clothes

  • Clothes that are in contact with the skin can brush, rub and cause skin chafing. These can worsen your skin irritation. To improve this situation, wear loose, non-irritating clothes and avoid those that are itchy or scratchy like wool. Cotton, silk or bamboo fabrics are better since they are less irritating.
  • Wear sports clothing that are cool to the skin to prevent excessive sweating.
  • When washing, use a natural laundry powder, or switch to a biological brand.

2. Choose Mild Soaps and Shampoos

  • Soaps and shampoos can affect your skin condition, so it is important to know the ingredients of the products you are using. Natural, moisturizing ingredients are less irritating on eczema-prone individuals. Avoid anti-bacterial or deodorant products, which are extremely drying.
  • Avoid products with perfumes and dyes, which are full of harsh chemicals that can dry the skin.
  • Avoid products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, a foaming agent, which is highly irritating. It can break down the skin's proteins, and make it dry and vulnerable to contaminants.
  • Avoid products with parabens, which cause irritation, and increase your risk of cancer.

3. Treat with Aloe Vera

  • Aloe Vera plants have a gel-like sap that has been used for ages as a natural remedy to soothe, moisturize, and heal skin disorders such as eczema.
  • Aloe Vera is an ingredient in various lotions and skin care products, which may also contain irritating ingredients. It is therefore best to buy the plant from a local garden and take the gel from the succulent leaves.
  • Break and squeeze the leaf to get the gel-like sap. Smear the gel over the affected skin and leave on for it to soak in. Store the leaf in a refrigerator to use again.

4. Use Chamomile

Chamomile is a natural treatment for itchiness and inflammation associated with atopic dermatitis. It may be used in two ways:

  • To make tea, brew some dried chamomile flowers in water for 15 minutes. Strain, cool slightly, soak a clean cloth in the tea, and wring out excess moisture to make a warm compress. Apply on the affected skin for ten to 15 minutes.
  • Use chamomile essential oil by massaging directly on the skin or adding some drops to your warm bath to soothe the skin.
  • Some people are allergic to chamomile, so test on a small area in the skin before you use it.

5. Other Tips

  • Cover the itchy skin to avoid scratching. Trim your nails and try wearing gloves when sleeping.
  • Sprinkle your warm bath water with uncooked or colloidal oatmeal or baking soda. Soak for a few minutes, then pat your skin dry. Apply moisturizers or medicated lotions to your skin.
  • Use home humidifier to add moisture to the air and relieve itching, drying and flaking skin. Keep the humidifier clean to prevent bacterial or fungal growth.

When to See a Doctor

Consult your doctor if:

  • Your rash is not controlled by 1% hydrocortisone cream applied twice daily
  • Your symptoms make you very uncomfortable when sleeping, working, or during other activities

Generally, atopic dermatitis is not a medical emergency except in these instances:

  • When your skin breaks down and becomes severely infected, rashes may become hot, red and painful. Red streaks may come from the rash. If you have a high fever, visit the emergency department if you cannot see your doctor immediately.
  • Elderly individuals, people with weakened immune systems or serious medical conditions (such as AIDS, diabetes, etc.) and those with symptoms of infection must visit the emergency department for immediate treatment.

Watch the video for more home remedies for atopic dermatitis:

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