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Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) - Treatment Overview

Treatment for atopic dermatitis depends on the type of rash you have. Most mild cases can be treated at home with moisturizers—especially skin barrier repair moisturizers—and preventive care. Most of the time, rash and itching can be controlled within 3 weeks.

For more serious rashes, you will need to see your doctor for treatment. These rashes include:

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  • An oozing rash, with fluid-filled sores that ooze fluid or crust over. You may have a skin infection.
  • A scaly, dry, red, and itchy rash.
  • Areas of thickened skin (lichenified skin).

For severe rashes, talk to your doctor about using bleach baths and wet wraps.

Getting medical treatment early may keep your symptoms from getting worse.

For rashes that don't get better with medicines or moisturizers, treatment may include:

  • High-strength topical corticosteroids or oral corticosteroids. These may be used when the rash covers large areas of the body. They may also be used when complications occur, such as skin infections.
  • A bandage or dressing that is wrapped around the affected skin. This covers open sores and prevents contact with air.
  • Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, with or without other medicine, at a clinic or doctor's office. Options include phototherapy or psoralen plus ultraviolet light therapy (PUVA).
  • Cyclosporine or interferon. These are sometimes used in adults if other treatment doesn't work.

For itching, treatment may include antihistamines. Also, taking baths with colloidal oatmeal (such as Aveeno) or applying wet dressings to the rash for 30 minutes several times a day may help.

In severe cases, hospitalization may be needed. A short stay in the hospital can quickly control the condition.

What to think about

Counseling may be helpful for children and adults with atopic dermatitis. Talking with a counselor can help reduce stress and anxiety caused by atopic dermatitis and can help a person cope with the condition.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: 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 information.
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