atopic dermatitis are used to help control itching and heal the rash. If you or your
child has a very mild itch and rash, you may be able to control it without
medicine by using home treatment and preventive measures. But if symptoms are
getting worse despite home treatment, you will need to use medical
treatment to prevent the itch-scratch-rash cycle from getting out of
Topical medicines, such as creams or ointments, are applied directly to the skin. Other medicines, such as oral corticosteroids or antihistamines, are taken as pills.
Topical corticosteroids are the most common and
effective treatment for atopic dermatitis. They are
used until the rash clears.
are topical immunosuppressants—medicines that weaken your body's
immune system. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) recommends caution when prescribing or using Elidel (pimecrolimus) cream
and Protopic (tacrolimus) ointment because of a potential cancer risk.3 The FDA also stresses that these medicines only be used as
directed and only after trying other treatment options. These medicines
aren't approved for children younger than 2 years of age.
Antihistamines are often used to treat atopic dermatitis itch. They can also help you
sleep when severe night itching is a problem. But histamines aren't always
involved in atopic dermatitis itch, so these medicines may not help all people. Don't give antihistamines to
your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.
Oral corticosteroids are used in severe cases when the rash covers large areas of the
body or when complications occur.
Coal tarCoal tar applied to the
skin may help reduce itching. But this medicine should not be used on skin that is very irritated, because it can make your skin problem worse. Tar preparations are sometimes used to control the condition
after a stronger medicine has successfully improved atopic dermatitis.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this