Taking frequent sponge baths (4 to 6 times a
day) or soaking in a bath of clean, warm (not hot) water for 10 to 30 minutes,
2 to 4 times a day. Adding colloidal oatmeal to the bath water [3 Tbsp (44
mL) per tub] can help relieve the itching. Colloidal oatmeal is available in
the health and beauty section of a pharmacy.
Using a cloth
dampened with a soothing medicine or water to cover small rashes that cover
small areas on extremities, such as the hands.
high-strength (for adults) or low- to mid-strength (for children)
corticosteroid ointment or lotion (not a cream) no more than 2 times a day.
Apply the corticosteroid immediately after bathing. Treatment with a
high-strength corticosteroid usually lasts 7 to 10 days. A lower-strength
corticosteroid is then used for 2 to 3 weeks or until the rash clears up.
If a bacterial infection has developed, you will need to use an
antibiotic. In severe cases, an oral corticosteroid may be necessary.
Subacute scaly rashes
Subacute scaly rashes are typically dry, red, and itchy. Medium- to
high-strength corticosteroids are applied 2 times a day as an ointment or cream
until the rash is cleared and itching is reduced. At this point, begin reducing
the amount of corticosteroid used from 2 times a day to 1 time every other day
over 2 to 4 weeks.
Thick skin (lichenified)
Skin thickened (lichenified) by atopic dermatitis is
treated with high-strength corticosteroid ointments for 2 to 6 weeks. A
dressing is sometimes used to cover the affected area after the medicine is
applied. Coal tar preparations may be used if the corticosteroids are not