Eczema: Treatment Options
A dermatologist is ideally suited to providing a treatment program that will improve Quality of Life (QoL).
Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a manifestation of many physical, environmental, and psychological variables. No one treatment modality (e.g. topical steroids) can fully treat the disorder. There are several aspects to address in forming a treatment plan, and these aspects are all patient dependent.
Restoring the skin barrier function and reducing inflammation, itch, allergic reaction (IgE), infection, food allergens, psychological stress, and environmental allergens (e.g. contact dermatitis) should all be addressed. While a patient, on their own, can attempt to address all aspects of their disease, their dermatologist is ideally suited to provide the best treatment program
Various treatment options are typically explored concurrently, and include medical interventions such as:
- Topical Preparations
- UV Phototherapy
- Systemic Drugs
Non-medical treatment options include:
- Skin Care
- Environmental Modification
Topical preparations address several aspects of disease control
Topical preparations will likely serve several purposes in disease treatment. The base formulation may serve to improve skin barrier function and improve water retention, or may be formulated in several ways to most effectively transport various chemical substances to the structures they affect. Topical preparations may contain one or more substances, and can include immunomodulators and steroids, antibiotics and antimicrobials, and antivirals.
Ultraviolet (UV) Phototherapy
Both UVA and UVB wavelength light has been shown to be very effective at reducing itch and inflammation and slowing disease progression in both acute and chronic eczema. Often UV phototherapy will be combined with other treatment modalities, such as topical steroids.
Systemic drugs are typically taken by mouth but may be injected into the patient. They affect the entire body. Cyclosporin is a common immunosuppressant which acts to block T-cell activities and reduce IgE synthesis. It has been demonstrated as safe and effective in both adults and children. Antihistamines are also typically ingested, including such common products as Benadryl. These products act to reduce allergic reaction and itch-like symptoms.