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EczemaEczema Treatment

Let's Talk About Eczema Treatment

There may not be a cure (yet), but there are many effective ways to manage symptoms—so that you can get right back to doing regularly scheduled life.

    Our Pro PanelEczema Treatment

    We went to some of the nation's top experts in eczema to bring you the most up-to-date information about treatments possible.

    Mary L. Stevenson, M.D. headshot.

    Mary L. Stevenson, M.D.Assistant Professor of Dermatology

    Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center
    New York City
    Alina G. Bridges, D.O. headshot.

    Alina G. Bridges, D.O.Associate Professor of Dermatology and Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

    Mayo Clinic
    Rochester, MN
    John Anthony, M.D. headshot.

    John Anthony, M.D.Dermatologist

    Cleveland Clinic
    Cleveland, OH

    Frequently Asked QuestionsEczema Treatment

    I’ve heard you can add bleach to a bath to help treat symptoms; is this true?

    Sounds crazy, but adding bleach to bath water may decrease the number of bacteria on your skin, reducing your risk of skin infection and minimizing inflammation that can worsen eczema. Use a half cup of household bleach for a full tub of water—the equivalent to what you find in a swimming pool (do not swallow the water). Soak for 10 minutes, rinse off and apply moisturizer. Caution: If you have asthma, check with your doctor first, since fumes can worsen symptoms.

    What do I do if I have a flareup before a big event and need it to clear up stat?

    First, don’t panic: There is, in fact, a quick fix. Your doctor can prescribe an oral corticosteroid like prednisone, which can relieve symptoms like itching, redness, and rash within hours or days. However, these aren’t medications that can be used long term. They come with the risk of some serious side effects like high blood pressure, weight gain, cataracts, or glaucoma. They’re often prescribed for short periods of time and followed with a longer-term immunosuppressant to keep symptoms in check.

    Can I take an OTC antihistamine to relieve itching?

    Because the itch that’s associated with eczema is not triggered by histamines (chemicals your immune system produces to get rid of allergens), antihistamines won’t reduce the itch, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. However, some of them, such Benedryl (diphenhydramine), will increase your drowsiness so your scratching is less likely to keep you up at night.

    What is wet wrap therapy?

    Wet wrap therapy helps ease itching and irritation by keeping the skin moist, allowing topical medications penetrate better. Take a clean cotton cloth, soaked in warm water, and place it on your skin after showering and applying topical medication. Place a dry layer over the wet one and leave it for several hours. Wraps should be removed when they start to dry out. If you need to wrap your hands or feet, you can use cotton gloves or socks for the wet layer with vinyl gloves or food-grade plastic wrap as the dry layer.

    Jennifer Tzeses

    Jennifer Tzeses

    Jennifer Tzeses is a writer and content strategist specializing in health, beauty, psychology and lifestyle.