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Eczema health centre

What treatments work for eczema?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Eczema is a condition that causes patches of the skin to become dry, red and itchy.

Scratching eczema patches can make the skin ooze and bleed, and it can make the itching and other symptoms of eczema worse. Sometimes the skin can become thick and scaly. Your doctor may call it 'atopic eczema'.

Key points about treating and preventing eczema

  • Treatments can't cure eczema, but they do relieve the symptoms.

  • There are many things you can do at home to try to keep your eczema under control.

  • Your doctor can also prescribe creams and ointments to help relieve your symptoms.

We've divided this section into three parts:

  • Treatments for eczema: These include steroid creams that help keep your symptoms under control, and the drugs called pimecrolimus and tacrolimus. More...

  • Self-care for eczema: Here we look at things you can try that might help control eczema. More...

  • Preventing eczema: Here we look at whether 'friendly' bacteria ( probiotics), or the foods you eat when you're pregnant and breastfeeding, can prevent your child getting eczema. More...

Treatments for eczema

There is a range of treatments your doctor can prescribe for eczema. These won't cure your or your child's eczema, but they can help control the symptoms.

Key messages about treating eczema

  • Steroid creams and ointments are the main treatment for eczema. Usually they are the first treatment doctors will try. They work well for most people. They can help reduce your or your child's symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

  • Simple moisturisers can also help relieve the symptoms of eczema. You'll need to use these as well as steroid creams.

  • Creams containing pimecrolimus and tacrolimus also work well. Pimecrolimus and tacrolimus are usually used if your or your child's symptoms aren't well controlled with steroids.

  • There are other treatments your doctor might recommend, if the usual treatments don't work, or you have a problem related to eczema.

Which treatments work best for eczema?

Which treatments work best? We've looked at the best research and given a rating for each treatment according to how well it works.

Treatments that workTreatments that are likely to work
  • Moisturisers: Lotions, ointments and creams that help keep moisture in the skin often protect against eczema and can help relieve symptoms. Doctors may call them emollients. More...

Other treatments

The treatments listed below are sometimes used to treat eczema if usual treatments haven't worked, or if you have another problem connected with eczema. We haven't looked at the research in the same way as we have looked at the research for other treatments on our site. But we've included them here because lots of people are interested in these treatments.

Last Updated: September 04, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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