Having atopic eczema can be very disheartening. Also called atopic dermatitis, this skin condition is the most prevalent form of all types of eczema yet no cure has been discovered so far. At present, treatments for severe atopic eczema are the only way to manage the problem.
Topical treatment always fails to cure severe cases so doctors usually recommend a combination of oral medications and therapies to gradually clear eczema and prevent a flare up.
Phototherapy is a treatment that uses ultraviolet light. It is quite expensive, time consuming and may have side effects, but it is one of the most effective treatments for severe atopic eczema.
During the procedure, the affected skin undergoes controlled exposure to UVB and/or UVA for several minutes, two to three times each week. The entire course of the treatment may take several months depending on the duration and severity of the eczema. The more severe cases may require a different treatment called photochemotherapy or UVA1.
Doctors continue to prescribe their patients with topical treatments such as steroid creams to enhance the treatment process. You should also continue using emollients to keep the skin hydrated as phototherapy are known to aggravate dryness.
One of recommended treatments for severe atopic eczema is a systemic treatment using oral corticosteroids and non-steroidal immunosuppresant agents. These medications are only given by doctors usually after a trial of phototherapy has at least been considered.
Prednisone and prednisolone are oral corticosteroids that are often administered in the short-term management of severe eczema. These medications rapidly controls eczema, but have potential side effects when used for more than a few weeks at a time.
Non-steroidal immunosuppressant medications such as azanthioprine, ciclosporin or mycophenolate are used if a dose of steroid has to be reduced and eventually discontinued.
The use of immunosuppressive agents in treatments for severe atopic eczema has potential long-term side effects yet many still choose to undergo it due to its effectiveness in reducing severe eczema. Many patients are happy that their quality of life greatly improved after the treatment.
The itch and scratch cycle can bring more damage to the skin so doctors prescribe oral antihistamines to alleviate the itch. Aside from this, antihistamines are also meant to help the sufferer get some sleep. If you have severe atopic eczema, you know very well how the itchy, weeping sores and burning sensation can give you sleepless nights.
To those who do not want a sedating antihistamine, doctors usually recommend cetirizine, which effectively decreases itch but without making you sleepy.
Your doctor may also recommend you undergo behavioural therapy to help you deal with atopic eczema. Constant scratching will make your skin peel off and aggravate the eczema, which makes the itch become more severe. However, in some, scratching has become a bad habit or a reaction to stress, and through behavioural therapy, you will be able to learn habit reversal strategies to reduce scratching.
If your atopic eczema has become severe and is affecting your sleep and day to day activities, you have to consult your doctor. He will discuss with you the different treatments for severe atopic eczema that will eventually free you from this skin problem.