SKIN CARE AT HOME
Daily skin care make cut down on the need for medicines.
Avoid scratching the rash or skin:
- Use a moisturizer, topical steroid cream, or other medicine your doctor prescribes.
- Take antihistamine medicines by mouth to reduce severe itching.
- Keep fingernails cut short. Wear light gloves during sleep if nighttime scratching is a problem.
Keep the skin moist (called lubricating or moisturizing the skin). Use ointments (such as petroleum jelly), creams, or lotions 2 - 3 times a day. Choose skin products that are free of alcohol, scents, dyes, and other chemicals. A humidifier to keep home air moist will also help.
Avoid things that make your symptoms worse, such as:
- Foods that may cause an allergic reaction such as eggs in a very young child (always talk to your doctor 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 then long, hot baths.
- Use gentle body washes and cleansers instead of regular soaps.
- Do not scrub or dry the skin too hard or for too long.
- Apply lubricating creams, lotions, or ointment to the skin after bathing while it is damp. This will help trap moisture in the 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.
Most causes of atopic dermatitis are treated with medicines placed directly on the skin or scalp (called topical medicines):
- You will probably be prescribed a mild cortisone (or steroid) cream or ointment at first. You may need a stronger medicine if this doesn't work.
- Medicines called topical immunomodulators (TIMs) may be prescribed for anyone over 2 years old. TIMs include tacrolimus (protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel). Ask your doctor 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 may lead to an infection.
Other treatments that may be used include:
- Antibiotic creams or pills if the skin is infected
- Drugs that suppress the immune system, such as cyclosporine, methotrexate, or mycophenolate mofetil
- Phototherapy, a medical treatment in which your skin is carefully exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light
- Short-term use of systemic steroids