Medical treatments for eczema

As with many skin diseases, the initial consultation is crucial to identifying triggers that make your condition worse.

The first stage in treating eczema is to analyse your environment and remove any factors that contribute to your eczema. Changes to diet and bathing products may have a significant effect on reducing your symptoms.

We then have access to a wide range of medical treatments for eczema that can help when you experience eczema flare-ups. These reduce inflammation, calming the skin so that it can heal more effectively, and killing the bacteria that cause eczema infections.

The main types of eczema treatment include:

  • Emollient treatments moisturise the skin and reduce the itching sensation. These treatments can be applied as a soothing cream, an ointment in dry areas or as a lotion for the scalp. Emollient eczema treatments have few side effects but may have reduced effectiveness if used for a long period.
  • Steroid treatments for eczema, also known as corticosteroids, can help to reduce the inflammation during a flare-up; however, these do have side effects and must not be used too often or for too long. Steroids are usually applied topically as a cream, although in severe cases steroid tablets or injections may be needed.
  • Antihistamine treatments for eczema can help to reduce the itching during a flare-up, so preventing further damage and infection. Sedative antihistamines are especially useful for children at night, in cases where the itching sensation is disrupting sleep.

Phototherapy for eczema

Phototherapy eczema treatment offers an alternative to steroids and other drugs. It involves the exposure of specific frequencies of ultraviolet (UV) light to subdue the skin’s inflammation that occurs during an eczema flare-up. Phototherapy for eczema reduces the need for steroids and kills some of the bacteria that infect eczema sites.

Most people need three phototherapy treatments sessions per week for a short length of time. As there are some risks linked to UV light exposure, patients cannot have this treatment administered regularly.

Phototherapy can also be delivered in combination with photosensitive drugs, such as psoralen, using UVA wavelengths. This is known as chemophototherapy or PUVA.