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Eczema Treatment Overview

Find the right care and learn about different treatments.
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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • Mild eczema can be treated at home.
  • Using heavy-duty moisturizers and oil-based emollient can keep skin hydrated
  • Figuring out your triggers can prevent flare-ups
See home treatments

When you may need a provider

  • Eczema is moderate to severe
  • OTC products aren’t helping
See care providers

Emergency Care

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Call 911 or go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Your eczema is painful, swells, or there’s a lot of drainage or crusting of the area.
  • You have severe and full-body eczema.

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All treatments for eczema
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Read more about eczema care options

When to see a healthcare provider

You should consider seeing a healthcare provider if your eczema (atopic dermatitis) is not improving with OTC skin products or your eczema is moderate to severe. Severe eczema is when there are widespread areas of dry skin, constant itching, redness, and possibly cracking and oozing skin.

Your doctor will likely start with prescription-strength steroid creams, which can take 2–4 weeks to work. Depending on how widespread and severe your eczema is, you may need oral immunosuppressant medications or ultraviolet phototherapy.

If your eczema is painful, swells, or there’s a lot of drainage or crusting of the area, it might be superinfected. See your doctor immediately or go to urgent care.

Getting diagnosed

Eczema is usually diagnosed based on a physical exam of your skin and your symptoms.

What to expect from your visit

An eczema doctor will discuss your current treatments and any OTC medications you’re taking.

  • They may recommend prescription-strength medications for your eczema.
  • They would likely start with a corticosteroid cream, lotion, or ointment. There are several types and they come in different strengths.
  • If you have moderate symptoms that aren’t improving, you may be prescribed topical (applied to the skin) calcineurin inhibitors such as Elidel and Protopic. These are immunosuppressant medications that can relieve symptoms. They are often prescribed for sensitive areas, like the face.
  • It can take from 2–4 weeks for prescription medications to relieve symptoms. And it’s very important to use the medication as frequently as it is prescribed.
  • For severe eczema, you may be prescribed oral immunological medications or oral steroids.
  • If eczema is widespread, your doctor might want to treat your entire body. Treatments include ultraviolet phototherapy and immunosuppressive drugs.

You may be prescribed antibiotics if you have a superinfection.

Prescription eczema medications

  • Topical corticosteroid creams include triamcinolone, clobetasone, and betamethasone
  • Topical calcineurin inhibitors include Elidel and Protopic
  • Immunologicals include methotrexate and dupilumab

Types of providers

  • A primary care provider can treat mild to moderate eczema symptoms.
  • A dermatologist is a skin doctor who may be more knowledgeable about the range of eczema treatment options.
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Frequently asked questions