Body

Treating Eczema- The Best Solutions for Face and Body

Learn the effective tips for treating eczema for clear, healthy skin on face and body.

Eczema is a very common skin condition, estimated to be found in 13% of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, 13% of Native Americans, 11% of whites, and 10% of African Americans.

In this skin condition, red and dry itchy patches are formed on the body, depending on the thing that causes it. Eczema usually has its first symptoms in infancy and resolves by up to 75% by the age of 16.

How to Treat Eczema?

Although it is said that flare-ups reduce as a person grows, it is important to note that eczema is a chronic illness, and there is no guarantee that it will go away on its own. For many years, steroid creams, both prescription and over-the-counter, were the basic therapy. However, prolonged usage (more than a year) might result in adverse effects such as glaucoma, cataracts, and skin thinning. So, the key is to manage the symptoms as well as the flare-ups.

This article will provide a thorough overview of all the methods for treating eczema. Starting with simple home remedies to naturally soothe and control symptoms, then we’ll take a look at several medical treatments for eczema, both topical and systemic. Lastly, we will go over some practical advice for managing eczema and ways to avoid recurring outbreaks so that your skin stays healthy and clean.

To have a better understanding of eczema, read our detailed information on the different forms of eczema and its symptoms before you explore the current treatments.

So, let’s dig in and make our skin eczema-free!

Home Remedies for Treating Eczema.

Unfortunately, eczema cannot be cured with a single treatment. A combination of different methods is usually applied to control the flares.
Here are the eight natural treatments below that may help your skin’s natural barrier stay healthy and add moisture.

1. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is an emollient, which means it has some hydrating properties. According to the National Eczema Association, coconut oil also has antimicrobial properties that can help decrease skin staph bacteria, which helps prevent infections.

Research has also shown that this home remedy is effective in many cases of mild-to-moderate eczema. A 2014 study examined the efficacy of coconut oil in alleviating eczema in children aged 1–13. Results showed that 47% observed good symptom relief and 46% experienced great improvement in those who applied 5 ml of virgin coconut oil to the skin twice daily. Another 2019 study also indicated that virgin coconut oil helps alleviate eczema symptoms by lowering systemic inflammation and preserving the skin’s protective barrier.

All that is required is to use it two times a day in the affected area. When using coconut oil for eczema, always choose chemical-free virgin or cold-pressed coconut oil to avoid any irritation.

2. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera gel is one of the most famous ingredients in skin sciences, as it is frequently used in many skincare products. It is a natural moisturizer and promotes skin integrity. Apart from this, aloe vera is also found to alleviate eczema symptoms due to its many useful characteristics, including anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, wound healing, and immunity-boosting properties. In another study, an aloe vera and olive oil combo outperformed a topical steroid cream in reducing symptoms and enhancing quality of life

The best source of this gel is directly from the aloe vera plant. Since it’s a natural product, patch testing is important.  Before applying aloe vera gel to alleviate eczema, cleanse the area that is affected with a gentle soap to maximise the absorption. After that, apply aloe vera gel to the irritated area and rub in. The gel may be sticky at first, so be patient. Wait until it dries before putting on your clothes.

3. Vaseline

Who can forget Vaseline? It is another home remedy that works great at sealing in moisture and shielding your skin from environmental triggers. Because of its potential oily consistency, it is only recommended for extreme eczema conditions by dermatologists. To use it, simply apply it to the itchy area and gently rub. The itch and redness will lessen within a few minutes.

Before you try any home remedy, it is always best to consult your primary care doctor to make sure it’s right for you.

4. Relieving Eczema with Bathing

In order to alleviate dryness, soothe itching, and prepare the skin for other treatments, bathing is an essential part of eczema management. And the skin that is sensitive or irritated might greatly benefit from a warm bath. J Here are a few research-based methods to relieve eczema through bathing:

Bleach Baths

Eczema causes an urge, and sometimes it becomes impossible to resist it. And when you scratch, you risk tearing the skin, which opens the door for germs that might cause an infection or make your eczema worse. As an effective method for killing skin germs and alleviating redness, swelling, and itching, doctors recommend adding a tiny bit of bleach to a bath. As per a 2017 study, people who suffer from eczema have claimed that bleach baths can alleviate their symptoms. According to another 2018 analysis, bleach baths may lessen the requirement for antibiotic or topical corticosteroid treatments too.

Baths are equally safe for children and adults, and your dermatologist can advise you on how much bleach you should use, as well as the suggested frequency of baths.

The standard recommendation is a full bath with half a cup of regular-strength bleach and no more than ten to fifteen minutes of soaking time. Following a bath, medical professionals advise using a fragrance-free, low-preservative moisturizer all over the body.

Colloidal Oatmeal Baths

The term “colloidal oatmeal” refers to a combination of finely crushed oats and a liquid substrate. It is great for treating many skin conditions when applied topically and it is another home remedy for soothing and treating eczema as well.

Research conducted in 2012 found that colloidal oatmeal can relieve eczema, itching, and redness. Another study from 2020 found that a 1% colloidal oat cream was better at healing eczema than a regular moisturizer, with 51% less severity of symptoms.  It is suggested to use oatmeal in powdered or ground form and soak it in warm water for 15 minutes until it swells. Then use it in bathing to relieve itching and soften the skin. But don’t rub your skin harshly with a towel; instead, just pat it dry and use any hypoallergenic moisturizer later on to seal the effects.

Wet Wrap Therapy

Wet wrap therapy is a recent method that is recommended if your eczema symptoms are extremely bad. It was found to be 70% effective in children. In another small 2018 study, wet wrap treatment alleviated itching, reduced skin lesions, and improved the overall quality of life of eczema patients.

treating eczema
image source: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/wet-wrap-therapy/

In this method, dressings are used that are actually just pieces of fabric that have been soaked in warm water. These dressings are applied to the affected area after the application of 0.1% steroid cream, which increases its efficiency by 90%. The wet wrap is then covered with a dry cloth and left for a few hours. Rewetting dried-out dressings is usually carried out as well. This should only be performed on the more severe eczema and for brief periods of time under medical supervision. For face eczema, trained staff usually use gauze and surgical netting.

Over-The-Counter Medication (Topical & Oral)

For quick relief from mild eczema symptoms, OTC (over-the-counter) medications might be helpful. These medications do not require They include:

  • Hydrocortisone creams: One can get mild corticosteroids over-the-counter to treat milder cases of eczema.
  • Calamine lotion: To alleviate skin itching, try using calamine lotion, which includes zinc oxide.
  • Pain relievers: If the eczema is causing you itch and pain, oral pain relievers can be used such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Antihistamines: If you suffer from atopic or nummular eczema, which can cause nighttime itching, antihistamines may be especially helpful. Antihistamines that can be used are diphenhydramine, cetirizine, and loratadine. When taken before bedtime, their benefits are maximized. Indeed, some of the newest antihistamines on the market don’t have that drowsy side effect.
  • Medicated Shampoo: For those who suffer from scalp eczema, there are medicated shampoos that are available without a prescription. Ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, and coal tar are some of the active components you should seek out in these hair shampoos. It can also help with a yeast known as Malassezia which grows in severe eczema.

Topical Options for Treating Eczema

woman applying cream to treat eczema

Moderate-to-severe eczema may not be alleviated by at-home therapies alone. In order to reduce symptoms and effectively manage eczema over the long term, physicians may prescribe medications in a variety of forms. However, not everyone may respond similarly to the treatments. There may be a need for a trial-and-error method conducted under the supervision of a physician as you seek out the optimal course of action.

The study included four studies that looked at urea cream, and the results showed that it was more effective than a cream without urea.

Emollients & Moisturizers. 

Emollients are topical skin moisturizers in products like lotions, creams, and ointments. It is the primary first-line treatment for eczema; emollients are essential for maintaining the skin’s moisture barrier. This is because itching leads to scratching, which causes more damage to the skin’s barrier.

You may get emollients and moisturizers with or without a prescription. If you want your skin to be able to heal itself properly after a long day, use a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizer and apply it thickly after a shower and before bed. Thicker emollients are preferred as they provide a stronger barrier against the trigger. Always read the label before buying a moisturizer with preferred ingredients such as aqueous cream, cocoa butter, shea butter, argon oil, glycerol, dimethicone, and lanolin oil.

Moisturize, moisturise, moisturise—that is the mantra of effective eczema management.

Corticosteroid Creams. 

Topical corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory creams, ointments, and lotions. They are typically prescribed for short-term usage and to reduce flare-ups.

There are four strengths of topical corticosteroids: mild, moderately powerful, potent, and extremely potent. The severity of eczema and the affected area of the body should be considered while selecting the appropriate corticosteroid dosage. For instance,

  • A low- to moderate-potency corticosteroid is recommended for treating the face and genital eczema.
  • Moderate to strong products may be used on the rest of the body.
  • Extremely strong corticosteroids may be necessary for the palms and soles (as the skin is much thicker and less prone to thinning). However, since they might cause skin changes, using them for more than two weeks at a time is not advised.

Applying Corticosteroids for Eczema: Use the fingertip unit technique to determine how much topical steroid to apply. Creams and ointments are measured by the amount needed to cover a fingertip. This much can treat two flat hands of eczema. An older adult’s trunk eczema may require seven fingertip units. A course of therapy lasting between 7 and 14 days usually suffices to alleviate a dermatitis flare. A longer course may be necessary for some situations.

If you are using using both therapies, such as emollient and topical steroid, apply the emollient first. After 10 to 15 minutes, apply topical steroids over an emollient. Before applying a topical steroid, the emollient must be thoroughly absorbed.

Calcineurin Inhibitors

One class of anti-inflammatory drugs is topical calcineurin inhibitors. In cases where steroids might irritate delicate skin, such as the face and genitals, they are a better option.  They are usually prescribed for atopic dermatitis. When treating eczema, two popular topical calcineurin inhibitors are :

Phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE-4)

One type of treatment for eczema is a topical phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE-4) inhibitor, which works by blocking the action of certain enzymes that are involved in the skin’s inflammatory response. They are the treatment of choice for those who want to avoid corticosteroids or have sensitivity due to eczema.

Crisaborole is an ointment that helps with mild-to-moderate eczema in both adults and children. When applied to the skin, it reduces inflammation and irritation.

Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors

topical Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors are used when treating eczema with emollients, topical corticosteroids, and calcineurin inhibitors have failed or wean off the patient from heavy systemic therapy. They work by reducing the inflammatory response and reducing eczema symptoms.

Ruxolitinib is a popular topical JAK inhibitor used to treat eczema. It was given the go-light by the FDA in 2021 to treat mild to moderate atopic dermatitis in patients aged 12 and up.  Whereas, as per the American Academy of Dermatology (AADA), two JAK inhibitors that have been authorized by the FDA for the treatment of severe eczema are abrocitinib and upadacitinib.  In the UK, another JAK inhibitor, baricitinib, has been approved as it was found in 2022 research that symptoms greatly alleviated after 16 weeks of its usage.

Prescription Oral Medications 

They are usually prescribed for severe eczema, where a large part of the body is covered with the skin condition they include,

Immunosuppressants

If your eczema is so severe that it affects a large portion of your body and causes significant inflammation (redness and itching), it is a preferred choice of treatment. When used orally, immunosuppressant drugs reduce skin inflammation, itching, and rash by blocking the immune system’s ability to attack the skin.

The following immunomodulators may alleviate severe eczema symptoms: Mycophenolate, azathioprine, cyclosporine, and methotrexate. These are extremely powerful drugs that are reserved for very extreme cases or as a last resort, such as chemotherapy or transplant patients whose immune systems are too weak to tolerate other treatments.  So care must be taken and these medications should not be used without consulting a doctor.

Dermatologists may recommend immunosuppressant medication for weeks or months until the symptoms are reduced. They may also reduce or stop the treatment of eczema and use home remedies and topical treatments with it.

Oral Antibiotics

If the skin barrier has been damaged due to excessive scratching or infection develops, many doctors suggest using oral antibiotics. They work by killing bacteria and stopping the spread of infections. A wide variety of antibiotics are used and prescribed by the doctor based on the age and spread of the infection.

Injectables

When topical treatments fail to alleviate moderate-to-severe type, Dupilumab injection is used to treat eczema (atopic dermatitis) in adults and children 6 months of age and older who cannot take other drugs for their condition or whose eczema has not responded to previous treatments.

It is biologic, which means it is produced by a living substance and has been approved by the FDA for treating eczema recently. These biologics inhibit eczema-related protein expression by blocking interleukin-4 and interleukin-13. The research published in 2016 in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that after 16 weeks of treatment, 75% of patients who took it had a reduction in their eczema symptoms. It is a relatively expensive treatment and requires weekly shots on the thigh or belly to work.

Life Styles Changes for Living with Eczema

Even if living with eczema is no fun, modifying your way of life may greatly alleviate eczema symptoms and greatly enhance your quality of life.

Managing Eczema

According to ADA, some of the lifestyle modifications you can follow are,

Avoiding Triggers.

First, it’s important to recognize what sets off your eczema so you can modify your food and routine accordingly. Keeping track of what you consume, the weather, the items you use, and the activities you engage in might help you identify triggers.

  • Avoid harsh soaps and detergents: It is often encouraged to avoid harsh and fragranced products such as shower gels, detergents, and other cleaning supplies without added fragrances or dyes. Also, it is best to avoid sulfates, parabens, or any other substance that might irritate your skin.  To find products that are safe to use, check the labels of both lotion and laundry detergent. As an alternative to soap, you can use an emollient wash product or a leave-on emollient.
  • Avoid allergens: It’s common for those who suffer from atopic dermatitis to also be allergic to home dust mites. If you suffer from allergies, eliminating household dust mites is your best bet for alleviating your symptoms. Learn the triggers that cause skin irritation in order to prevent them.
  • Avoid scratching: Scratching can exacerbate your eczema and cause harm to your skin. Utilize prescription topical medications, moisturizers, or cold compresses to alleviate irritation. Try as much as you can not scratch. Keeping your nails short will also help.
  • Wear comfortable clothing: When possible, avoid wearing wool or other itchy materials close to the skin and instead choose cotton. The smoothness of the material, rather than the substance itself, is likely to be the key factor. Some silky synthetic textiles are perhaps just as wonderful as cotton.
  • Avoid extreme hot or cold environments: Don’t expose yourself to sweltering heat or cold, as either might cause skin irritation. If you are going out, use sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn.

However, remember that each individual has a unique skin microbiome and a unique reaction to therapy, so what works for one person may not work for another.

Using Air Humidifier. 

A humidifier may be helpful in addition to routine moisturizing, using mild skin care products, and taking shorter, more frequent showers. It is a device/gadget that aids in restoring moisture to the air, reducing skin dryness and the associated itching and flaking.

An up-to-date look at dermatitis therapy shows that using humidifiers during dry seasons can help reduce outbreaks. In another study, humidifiers were found to be the best source to alleviate eczema flare-ups in months with low humidity. The best way to use a humidifier is to let it operate for several hours in the room where you stay the most.

For all the types that are, here is a detailed table with the preferred options for treating eczema

Type of Eczema Recommended Treatments
Atopic Dermatitis
  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Emollients
  • Bathing changes
  • Antihistamines
Contact Dermatitis
  • Topical/oral corticosteroids
  • Moisturizers
  • Antihistamines
Dyshidrotic Eczema
  • Topical steroid ointments,
  • oral pills
Seborrheic Dermatitis
  • Shampoo, cream or ointment on the scalp
  • Anti-fungal medicine
  • Medicated lotion on the scalp
  • Antihistamines
Discoid Eczema
  • Topical steroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Gentle soap products
  • Lukewarm baths
Neurodermatitis
  • Moisturizer
  • Cold compress
  • Topical steroids
  • Bath treatments for soothing the skin
  • Oral antihistamine treatment
Asteatotic Eczema
  • Petrolatum-based emollients following bathing
  • Topical steroids
  • Moisturizers
Stasis Dermatitis
  • Compression socks
  • Topical steroid
  • Leg elevation
  • Vitamin C to enhance blood flow

Eczema has no cure, so avoiding and treating flare-ups is important.

Dermatitis cannot be cured. However, it may be treated successfully, such that its symptoms are minimized. Alterations to one’s way of life and medical intervention may be necessary for treatment. Eating healthily and drinking enough water is also vital for healthy skin microbiota, moisturizing, and UV protection. Take care of your skin, so it doesn’t flare up when you’re out and about.

Show More

Dr Aimen

Being a Doctor by profession, Aimen is passionate about helping people get better health in their lives. Aimen enjoys her research on Prime With Time subjects and strives to create better awareness of the problems and changes related to women's health.
Back to top button