SKIN CARE AT HOME
Daily skin care may cut down on the need for medicines.
To help you avoid scratching your rash or skin:
- Use a moisturizer, topical steroid cream, or other medicine your provider prescribes.
- Take antihistamine medicines by mouth to reduce severe itching.
- Keep your fingernails cut short. Wear light gloves during sleep if nighttime scratching is a problem.
Keep your skin moist by using ointments (such as petroleum jelly), creams, or lotions 2 to 3 times a day. Choose skin products that do not contain alcohol, scents, dyes, and other chemicals. A humidifier to keep home air moist will also help.
Avoid things that make symptoms worse, such as:
- Foods, such as eggs, that may cause an allergic reaction in a very young child, (always talk to your provider first)
- Irritants, such as wool and lanolin
- Strong soaps or detergents, as well as chemicals and solvents
- Sudden changes in body temperature and stress, which may cause sweating
- Triggers that cause allergy symptoms
When washing or bathing:
- Expose your skin to water for as short a time as possible. Short, cooler baths are better than long, hot baths.
- Use gentle body washes and cleansers instead of regular soaps.
- Do not scrub or dry your skin too hard or for too long.
- Apply lubricating creams, lotions, or ointment to your skin while it is still damp after bathing. This will help trap moisture in your skin.
At this time, allergy shots are not used to treat atopic dermatitis.
Antihistamines taken by mouth may help with itching or allergies. You can often buy these medicines without a prescription.
Atopic dermatitis is usually treated with medicines placed directly on the skin or scalp. These are called topical medicines:
- You will probably be prescribed a mild cortisone (steroid) cream or ointment at first. You may need a stronger medicine if this does not work.
- Medicines called topical immunomodulators (TIMs) may be prescribed for anyone over 2 years old. Ask your provider about concerns over a possible cancer risk with the use of these medicines.
- Creams or ointments that contain coal tar or anthralin may be used for thickened areas.
- Barrier repair creams containing ceramides may be used.
Wet-wrap treatment with topical corticosteroids may help control the condition. But, it may lead to an infection.
Other treatments that may be used include:
- Antibiotic creams or pills if your skin is infected
- Drugs that suppress the immune system
- Targeted biologic medicines that are designed to affect parts of the immune system involved in atopic dermatitis
- Phototherapy, a treatment in which your skin is carefully exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light
- Short-term use of systemic steroids (steroids given by mouth or through a vein)