Atopic eczema is the most common type of eczema that affects infants and adults. At present, there is no known cure for this skin disease. There are numerous topical and oral medicines for atopic eczema that can help alleviate symptoms and prevent flare ups.
While research is still ongoing to find long-term treatments, medications help improve the quality of life of those who have atopic eczema. Most of these are available over the counter while some require a doctor’s prescription. Medicines for atopic eczema may be chosen by the patient or doctor depending on the disease’s pattern, severity and duration.
Topical applications are medications tried first as eczema sufferers usually respond to them well and have few side effects. Oral medications are usually prescribed to those with severe eczema or when topical applications fail. Once the patient’s eczema continues to persist, the doctor will explore other options such as phototherapy.
Emollients may not be considered as medicines for atopic eczema, but it is very essential to eczema management. Dry skin is one of the trigger factors of atopic eczema so keeping the skin moisturized is imperative. Emollient products come in the form of creams, lotions and ointments that provide moisture to the skin and help prevent further water loss.
Creams are the more popular choice. Lotions are not oily enough and quickly evaporate while ointments are harder to rub in and leave the skin feeling greasy. All are effective, though, so it is simply finding the right one that works for you.
These medicines for atopic eczema are used for mild to moderate cases, but may also be used in severe eczema to reduce the dose of oral medications and phototherapy. These are available in different strengths with mild eczema usually responding to low potency topical steroids within a few days, clearing eczema within a week or two.
Those with moderate eczema may require stronger topical steroids for at least two weeks before improvement on their eczema can be noticed, and several more weeks before the skin appears normal again. On the other hand, those with severe eczema may show minimal improvements or none at all if treated with the most potent topical steroids alone.
The topical immunomodulators are very helpful to those with mild to moderate atopic eczema and used in thin-skinned areas such as the face, genitals and body folds. These medications act as anti-inflammatory agents, but do not affect the skin’s barrier function.
The most effective in preventing flare ups is topical pimecrolimus when used at the earliest sign of redness or itching. Topical tacrolimus is the more potent one and shows greater immunosuppressive activity.
Antibiotics are used in the management of atopic eczema when there are signs of bacterial infection such as crusting, weeping, pustules or painful swelling. Oral antibiotics are the most common, but there are cases when hospital admission is necessary for intravenous treatment.
The most prescribed antibiotics are flucloxacillin or dicloxacillin, which are penicillin derivatives. Erythromycin is most suitable for those who are allergic to penicillin.
Antihistamines are medicines that alleviate itch as well as help the patient get some sleep. Most doctors prescribed these on children, and the most common drug used is cetirizine.
If you have eczema, never self medicate. You have to visit the clinic and discuss with your doctor what medicines for atopic eczema are more suitable for you.