Eczema - Treatments
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Although there is no cure for eczema there are many good treatments that can help relieve the symptoms. There are also a number of things you can do at home to help keep your eczema under control.
Medical Treatments for Eczema
Good, sensible skin care is an important part of managing eczema. In many instances this can be enough to manage milder cases.
First line eczema treatments: Moisturizing is one of the most important self-care treatments for sufferers of eczema. Keeping the affected area moistened can promote skin healing and relief of symptoms. Doctors will usually start patients on the most simple treatments. For example; a room-temperature bath which will help remove crusted skin, then apply a good moisturizer immediately afterwards, this will help to retain the skins natural moisture. More on moisturisers.
Corticosteroid creams: Corticosteroid creams and ointments have been the mainstay of eczema treatment for many years. There are OTC creams available for milder cases. If your eczema is more severe your doctor may suggest a prescription only cream. In the most severe cases and usually only when other treatments have failed your doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids.
Immunomodulators: Newer drugs called topical immunomodulators are available to help treat eczema. These medicines help control inflammation and reduce immune system reactions when applied to the skin. Talk to your doctor about whether these may be right for you.
Oral antihistamines: Oral antihistamines will sometimes help to relieve eczema symptoms and can be useful at night-time. They can cause drowsiness and may help you to sleep despite the eczema itching
Other Treatments: In the most extreme instances of eczema, your doctor or dermatologist may suggest ultraviolet light therapy. There are also drugs that suppress the immune system and may be tried for adults. Your doctor would be the best person to talk to if other more traditional forms of treatment have not helped.
Nutritional treatments for eczema
Food exclusion diet: There is evidence to suggest that food sensitivity is a common cause of eczema in children. A supervised food exclusion may help to identify eczema triggers and eliminate them from the diet. Food exclusion diets in children should always be supervised by a medical professional.
Anti-Candida diet: Some nutritionists believe that eczema can be related to an overgrowth of candida or yeast organisms. If the rash is itchy and you have an upset bowel or other symptoms of candida, the anti-candida diet may be worth trying.
Supplement treatments for eczema
While there is very little conclusive evidence that proves that supplements can help with eczema, many people do find that they help. Some research has suggested that people with eczema may not process essential fatty acids from food normally, leading to low levels of a fatty acid called gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). This helps your immune system work properly, so taking a supplement could help reduce the skin inflammation associated with eczema.
Evening primrose oil, starflower oil and blackcurrant seed oil all contain GLA. A number of studies have found that taking these supplements could not only reduce the number of eczema flare-ups but also how severe they are and the length of time they last. An analysis of nine scientific trials found that GLA was also helpful in reducing itching. Borage Oil, another source of GLA, has show in some studies to reduce skin inflammation, dryness, scaliness and itch in eczema patients.
Fish Oils may also help eczema. The largest study of fish oil and eczema did not show any positive improvements, however other studies have shown that fish oils can reduce the severity of symptoms.
B Vitamins may play a supportive role in managing eczema. Some evidence suggests that eczema may be made worse by deficiencies in Vitamin B12. Other studies suggest that a deficiency of other B Vitamins like riboflavin may be involved so taking a vitamin B complex supplement would be worth a trial for a month.
Herbal treatments for eczema
Many herbs have traditionally been used to help relieve the symptoms of eczema.
Liquorice root contains a substance called glycyrrhizinic acid, which is believed to help reduce the symptoms of eczema. It can be taken internally or applied directly to the skin.
Witch hazel: A cream prepared with witch hazel and phosphatidylcholine has been shown to be as effective as 1% hydrocortizone cream in at least one study.
Alternative Treatments for Eczema
- Hypnosis: Numerous trials have shown that hypnosis can be effective in reducing eczema in both children and adults that were resistant to other forms of treatment.