An overview of treatment choices for atopic eczema
Whilst this is a condition which mainly affects children, many people also suffer from atopic eczema in adulthood. The skin becomes itchy, red, dry, and may crack if you suffer from this condition.
More information about diagnosing the condition can be found at NHS Choices.
If you suffer from atopic eczema, it is of primary importance to avoid irritants to the skin, which may include bath and shower products, detergents, perfume, animal dander or woollen clothing. This makes it easier to avoid scratching and thus is likely to reduce inflammation and infection. Cotton clothes may be a good option, as the smooth material is often less irritating to the skin. However, it may not be easy to identify your personal triggers and some triggers are difficult to avoid, for example dust mites in your home. If you find heat worsens your condition, try keeping your home cool.
Moisturisers are recommended to prevent loss of water and soothe the skin, whilst also providing a useful barrier against irritants. It is recommended you apply emollients at least twice a day for best results if you suffer from atopic eczema. It is important to find a moisturiser that suits you and does not irritate your skin. Overall, moisturisers can provide an effective addition to your care routine, often in conjunction with a topical corticosteroid.
When using emollients, it is important to apply the correct product generously. Some patients notice an improvement in their eczema if they apply the moisturiser when their skin is still damp from the bath or shower, thus trapping in extra moisture. Bath additives may also be helpful in locking in extra moisture.
E45 cream is a popular choice. Diprobase cream is also an effective option for many patients in moisturising eczema-prone skin. Some patients also report success in using Sudocrem.
Steroid creams may help reduce inflammation and redness, however care must be taken when applying to ensure they are only applied to recommended areas for the correct period of time. Even in the most severe cases, they can usually be used between flare-up periods to manage the condition. A commonly used example of a steroid cream is hydrocortisone.
Other options for atopic eczema
Other options include antihistamines which may help reduce irritation and bandages. Whilst the itchiness of eczema means this is sometimes difficult to avoid, scratching does tend to damage the skin which can unfortunately exacerbate the problem. Chronic scratching may also lead to bleeding and even infection and scarring. Some patients report success in avoiding scratching by gently rubbing the skin with their fingers and keeping their fingernails short to avoid damage if scratching does occur. For babies with atopic eczema, it is sometimes recommended to use anti-scratch mittens. E45 Itch Relief Cream may also help relieve the itch of eczema and thus make avoiding scratching easier.
Sources of information
The National Eczema Society offers more information on assessing whether your eczema is infected and is a useful source of information if you are concerned or want to find out more.
Patient UK states that around 1 in 5 schoolchildren currently have atopic eczema to some degree, with the condition generally clearing up in their teenage years. For more details on this, visit Patient UK.