How to Get Rid of Eczema: Effective Treatments and Remedies


Someone applying cream to hands with eczema.
Highlights
  • Eczema is a chronic skin condition that can’t be cured. However, with the right treatment, you can manage it well and enjoy a better quality of life.

  • Prescription treatments include both oral and topical medications aimed at reducing inflammation and irritation.

  • Tea tree, sunflower, and coconut oils are some potentially effective topical home remedies you may want to consider.

  • Certain lifestyle changes can help you manage your eczema more effectively. These changes include prioritizing gentle skincare, using hypoallergenic laundry detergent, and minimizing your exposure to environmental allergens.

Often referred to as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a skin condition that affects around 30% of people in the U.S.

If eczema is affecting your life, you're likely wondering how to get rid of it or if it will ever go away.

While there is currently no cure for eczema, it is possible to treat this skin condition effectively and manage your symptoms to improve your quality of life.

In this article, we discuss the various treatment options available to people with eczema and the lifestyle changes that may prevent flare-ups.

Understanding Eczema

Eczema is a type of chronic condition where the skin becomes inflamed and irritated. Anyone can develop eczema, however, it is particularly common in infants and children.

People with eczema typically experience something called a flare-up, which is when their symptoms worsen and become harder to manage.

For many, eczema is an unpleasant and uncomfortable condition, especially due to the itchy skin it typically causes.

What are the common eczema symptoms?

The symptoms of eczema will depend on the type you have, as well as various environmental factors.

These symptoms include:

  • Dry skin

  • Scaly or flaky patches of skin

  • Swollen and inflamed areas of the skin

  • Changes in the color of the skin

  • Highly sensitive skin

  • Oozing or weeping patches

  • Hives or rashes

What are the different types of eczema?

There are about seven different types of eczema that people can get. The two most common types of this skin condition include:

  • Atopic dermatitis: Atopic eczema is the most common type of this condition and typically occurs when the skin barrier becomes inflamed, dry, and itchy.

  • Contact dermatitis: This type of eczema is usually caused by an allergic reaction to a certain trigger or allergen that touches the skin.

Can I get rid of eczema?

While it’s certainly possible to effectively manage the symptoms of eczema, this is currently not a curable condition.

Often, when babies and children develop eczema, they outgrow the condition and experience a significant improvement as they age. However, in some cases, their eczema never goes away.

Some people may only experience a few flare-ups in their lifetime, while others may have symptoms every day. This condition differs from one person to the next.

However, with proper management, the right treatment plan, and certain lifestyle changes, eczema can be effectively controlled and managed to improve your quality of life.

Eczema Treatments Explained

Eczema treatment is aimed at managing the symptoms of the condition. Usually, treatments are designed to prevent eczema flare-ups or to control them when they happen.

Prescription treatments

It’s important to consult a healthcare professional if you believe you have eczema or if you’re experiencing a flare-up.

There are several medications a doctor or dermatologist can prescribe to treat your specific type of eczema and your symptoms.

A topical corticosteroid

Topical corticosteroids are among the most popular treatments prescribed for moderate to severe eczema. These are used to:

  • Reduce inflammation and swelling

  • Repair damaged or oozing skin

  • Restore the skin barrier

  • Soothe redness and itching

Key Point: How to Use Topical Steroids

Your healthcare provider will instruct you on how to use this medication, but here are the recommendations that are typically given:

  • Pat your skin dry after a bath or shower before applying the cream
  • Apply the cream twice a day directly to the affected area
  • Wait at least 30 minutes after applying any other moisturizer or lotion before using your topical steroid cream
  • Continue to use the treatment until at least 48 hours after the flare-up has cleared to ensure the inflammation beneath the skin is treated effectively
  • Never use topical steroids longer than prescribed as they are not intended for long-term use

It’s quite normal to experience some mild stinging when you first start applying your steroid cream. Other common side effects of this topical treatment include:

  • Thinning of the skin

  • Changes in skin color

  • Acne

  • Increased hair growth

Most of these side effects will clear once the treatment is discontinued and your symptoms are under control.

Oral medications

A doctor may also prescribe oral medications to manage inflammation within the body and prevent the development of further symptoms.

In some cases, healthcare providers prescribe corticosteroid tablets for a period of five to seven days.

This is particularly true when dealing with more severe eczema flare-ups that could result in skin infections and other complications.

Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments

Various oral and topical medications to treat eczema are available over-the-counter (OTC) at your local pharmacy.

Your pharmacist may recommend that you take OTC antihistamines to reduce itching and irritation, especially if your eczema is the result of an allergic reaction.

There are certain emollients available from pharmacies and drugstores that can stop your skin from becoming dry and flaky. This proactive step may prevent flare-ups from starting.

Also, there are special bandages you can get to place on affected areas. These allow the skin to heal without being further irritated or damaged by scratching.

Natural remedies

There are some alternative treatments that you can try using various household items.

However, it’s important to note that there is little scientific evidence that these remedies work, and they may make your eczema worse — so proceed with caution if you follow these alternative options.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has natural anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also anti-bacterial. This may make it a useful remedy for cracked or inflamed skin.

Some research has found that using a tea tree oil cream may reduce itching. Another study identified that applying tea tree oil directly on the skin improved eczema symptoms.

Apple cider vinegar

According to the National Eczema Association (NEA), apple cider vinegar can be helpful in treating the symptoms of eczema.

It may help to restore the skin’s natural pH level, which in turn improves the skin’s barrier function, helping it to protect the body against harmful bacteria, fungi, and other microbes.

Applying apple cider vinegar to eczema.
Key Point: Only Use Diluted Apple Cider Vinegar

If you’re interested in trying this home remedy, never apply apple cider vinegar in its pure form directly onto this skin. The acid can damage the skin’s tissue, according to the NEA.

Instead, you should dilute this product by mixing one cup of warm water with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. You can then apply it to the affected skin using cotton wool or gauze.

Sunflower oil

Some research has found that sunflower seed oil can protect the outer layer of the skin, which could potentially assist in retaining moisture and preventing bacteria from forming.

This oil may also help to hydrate the skin, which may ease inflammation, swelling, and itching.

Coconut oil

According to the NEA, coconut oil may be effective in preventing infections associated with eczema.

It has antibacterial properties and could be helpful if you have cracked skin that is oozing.

Ensure you only apply cold-pressed or virgin coconut oil to your skin. Processed coconut oil often contains chemicals that may irritate the skin and worsen your symptoms.

Alternative therapies

Some people with eczema have reported that alternative medicine has worked to ease their symptoms.

Light therapy

A dermatologist or skin specialist can use specific lasers to target the affected skin. It may help to improve the skin’s appearance and remove any blemishes caused by eczema flares.

Acupuncture

It’s possible that acupuncture may work as an alternative treatment for eczema, according to some research.

Acupuncture involves fine needles being inserted into specific areas of the body. It’s believed this may help to relieve itching.

Vitamin supplementation

Although more research is needed, some studies have found that vitamin D may help prevent eczema flares. Vitamin D is known for:

  • Boosting the immune system

  • Maintaining skin barrier function

These two factors may help manage the symptoms of eczema and stop them from getting worse.

Identifying and avoiding triggers

An important part of treating and managing your eczema is knowing what your triggers are and avoiding them.

Some common triggers include:

  • Harsh soaps

  • High-allergen foods such as dairy products and gluten

  • Certain fabrics

  • Dry weather

  • Cosmetics and skin care products

  • Smoke and polluted air

  • Stress and anxiety

  • Touching something you’re allergic to

Key Point: Keep a Symptom Diary

Keeping a record of your symptoms and what you think may have triggered them can be useful.

If you notice that a flare-up is starting, consider any recent activities or anything you’ve been exposed to that may be the trigger.

This diary will also come in handy when you see a doctor for treatment, as it will give them insight into your triggers and how to best treat them.

Relieving itchy skin and managing inflammation

Managing the itching associated with eczema is essential to any treatment plan. Excessive scratching can lead to open and oozing wounds that can result in infection.

Some ways to manage itchy, inflamed skin and prevent infection include:

  • Using wet wraps or applying cold compresses to itchy areas

  • Keeping your nails short so that you don’t transfer debris and bacteria into the open wounds

  • Using OTC gels and ointments that relieve itching and irritated skin

  • Wearing gloves to bed to stop scratching in your sleep

  • Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or mindfulness to reduce stress-induced scratching

Important lifestyle changes to manage eczema

Another vital aspect of managing your condition and preventing an eczema flare-up is making certain changes to your lifestyle.

Establishing a good skin care routine

When it comes to caring for eczema-prone skin, you should prioritize gentle skin care practices, such as:

  • Cleansing your skin with a mild, fragrance-free soap or gel

  • Moisturizing regularly to keep the skin hydrated and maintain good barrier function

  • Using the right emollients and lotions as prescribed by your healthcare provider

  • Avoiding any harsh skin care products, especially those containing alcohol, as this may further irritate the skin

  • Avoiding using very hot water on your skin

Choosing the right fabrics

To prevent flares and allow your skin to breathe, be sure to consider the clothing you wear.

Certain fabrics, especially those made from synthetic materials, prevent the skin from being able to breathe properly.

Choose breathable, soft fabrics, as these are less likely to irritate your skin and potentially result in a flare-up. Cotton and bamboo fabric are great natural options.

Being careful with laundry detergents

A common trigger for eczema is harsh laundry detergents. Ensure you choose a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic laundry detergent to wash your clothes and linen.

Minimize exposure to environmental factors

Ensure that your skin is covered and protected from direct sunlight, as this may worsen your eczema symptoms.

Try to avoid exposure to pollutants and environmental allergens like dust and pet dander. You can do this by cleaning your living space regularly and using an air purifier.

Woman with a long sleeve shirt on is petting her dog and sitting next to an air purifier.

Where Can I Learn More About Treating Eczema?

For more information and guidance about eczema treatments, visit LifeMD.

A team of healthcare providers can prescribe medications, develop a treatment plan, and provide recommendations to improve your eczema flares.

Make an appointment today to get started.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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