Western Treatments for Eczema (AD)
Updated: Sep 10, 2022
Emollients are a must-have for any eczema sufferer and should be
applied multiple times throughout the day to keep dry skin
moisturized. It is the most commonly used treatment for atopic
dermatitis and helps protect the skin's moisture barrier.
Some of my favorites include:
Physiogel Calming Relief AI Lotion
Cetaphil Eczema Calming Lotion
Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream
La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+ Lotion
Vanicream Moisturizing Cream
Topical steroids are immunosuppressant creams that are
recommended by most dermatologists for short-term itch relief for the
patient. However, there are many potential side effects if used for too
long or misused. Thinning of skin, fragile to bruising, prominent blood
vessels, and skin losing its elasticity can all accompany the itch-relief.
There are also cases in which patients go through topical steroid
withdrawal, which occurs when a patient suddenly stops their use of
steroids and goes through withdrawal because the skin is not strong
enough without continual use of these steroid creams. Often, this leads
to years of recovery.
Topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs) work by altering the immune
system, blocking one of the chemicals that can contribute to the
flaring of atopic eczema. Consistent, everyday application for 6-8
weeks is recommended, but doses should be gradually reduced over
the following months. While it can have side effects of increased
internal heat and in some cases, withdrawal, it is not as detrimental to
the skin as topical steroids.
Protopic and Elidel are examples of calcineurin inhibitors. Protopic comes in two dosages: 0.1% and 0.03% tacrolimus. Elidel has 1% pimecrolimus.
WET WRAPS AND PASTE BANDAGES
Warm/wet bandages are applied to the body over an emollient and
sometimes a mild topical steroid (topical steroid under wrapping
should only be used under the supervision of your healthcare
professional). A dry layer of bandage is then placed over the wet
layer. Wet wraps are particularly helpful at night (when overheating
can be a problem) as they also cool the skin.
Phototherapy includes the use of ultraviolet (UV) light to treat
moderate to severe eczema. The goal of phototherapy is to reduce
the growth of your skin cells and treat underlying skin
inflammation. Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, does this by
putting ultraviolet (UV) light on your skin. It must be administered for
several weeks, 2-3 times per week.
In more moderate or severe cases of eczema, doctors might prescribe
immunosuppressant drugs to help control or suppress the immune
system in order to slow down the symptoms of eczema. It also helps
break the itch-scratch cycle in many patients. Some examples are:
azathioprine, ciclosporin, methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil...etc.