In diagnosing eczema, doctors do not require any lab tests; they can reach a diagnosis by simply conducting a physical examination of your skin and checking your medical records. They may also recommend patch testing or some additional tests to eliminate the possibility of other skin conditions or conclude whether your eczema is accompanied by any other skin disease.
Eczema Treatment Options
Eczema is recurrent by nature, so you will likely require a variety of therapies over the course of an extended period to manage the symptoms. Also, even with successful treatment, symptoms often recur with flare-ups.
The earlier you are diagnosed, the better as you may begin treatment promptly to get the symptoms under control. If at-home self-care remedies such as moisturizing prove ineffective, your physician might recommend one or a mix of the treatment options outlined below:
Ointments: You may get a prescription for a lotion or ointment containing a corticosteroid, which is usually used after moisturizing. These ointments can ease itching and restore the skin’s appearance. Prolonged use of corticosteroid creams can have adverse side effects such as thinning skin. Some other ointments your physician may prescribe you are Protopic or Elidel, which contain medications known as calcineurin inhibitors. These medications are used to manage the skin reaction by targeting the immune system. Just as with a corticosteroid cream, these must be used after moisturizing, and you must also avoid direct sunlight upon applying these creams.
Antibiotics for Infections: If you notice open sores or fissures on the affected skin, you may have a bacterial or viral infection. In this case, you may be prescribed an ointment containing an antibiotic or oral antibiotics for short-term use.
Corticosteroids for Inflammation: If you experience inflammation and irritation, which is more common in severe cases, your physician may recommend oral corticosteroids like prednisone. However, while these medicines are highly effective, they mustn’t be taken long-term due to their adverse side effects.
Biologics: For more severe cases of eczema, there is a new FDA-approved medication known as Dupixent, which is an injectable form of biologic. This is a treatment reserved for those who have not had any success with the standard treatments. While very costly, its safety has been confirmed by numerous studies if taken as per instructions.
Gauze dressing: Covering the affected patches of skin using a corticosteroid ointment with wet dressings is also a highly useful option to treat severe cases of eczema. It can require a lot of work and know-how, which is why some individuals with extensive sores prefer to get this done in a hospital. However, you may consult your physician or a nurse about how to wrap wet dressings properly.
Phototherapy: Phototherapy is reserved for those who don’t get the desired results with medications or those who experience outbreaks shortly after receiving a form of standard treatment. This therapy entails the use of measured amounts of natural UV light on the affected areas. There are also types of phototherapy that expose artificial ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B to the skin. As effective as it is, prolonged phototherapy poses some risks such as increasing the danger of skin cancer and speeding up the aging of the skin.