Eczema is a very common anti-inflammatory skin condition that affects 1 in 12 adults and 1 in 5 children according to the National Eczema Society. Eczema causes unpleasant symptoms such as itching, soreness, and red, flaky, blistering skin. These symptoms can have not only a physical impact on the sufferer, but also an emotional impact. Many people with the condition can have low self esteem due to the appearance and feel down and depressed because of the stress of having this condition.
Eczema is usually treated with emollients to keep the skin moisturised and topical corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. Speak to a doctor about the best method of treatment for your eczema.
Below are some common eczema medicines. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list and other non-medical methods may be more suitable. If you would like to learn more about these options, then please click here. Before receiving medication you must answer a number of questions to asses your suitability. All questions are reviewed by a GMC registered doctor before a final decision is made. All medication is dispensed via a full regulated and registered UK pharmacy.
Our Health Care Team
"Eczema is a very common skin condition that usually develops in childhood. Mild eczema may be controlled with emollients and avoiding irritants, however, severe eczema may need the aid of medicated creams such as topical corticosteroids. You should see your GP to get a proper diagnosis of your skin condition so that you receive the most appropriate treatment. Eczema can be sore, irritating and unpleasant to look at so if you’re struggling with the physical and psychological effects of this condition, get treatment sooner rather than later."
What is eczema?
Eczema, also known as atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis, is a common inflammatory skin condition which mostly affects children but it can develop at any age and can range from mild to severe. When the onset of eczema begins in childhood some people grow out of the condition and do not have eczema in adulthood, however, this can also be a long-term chronic skin condition.m The word eczema comes from the Greek term ‘to boil’ which reflects the red, sore, itching, and blistering skin which is a symptom of this condition. You can develop eczema in any part of the body but it usually affects the knees and elbows, the hands, cheeks, scalp, and around the neck.
Many people with this condition experience flare ups of eczema when they are exposed to a trigger, similar to an allergy the body’s immune system is hypersensitive to certain triggers. Those who have eczema will also have other allergy related conditions alongside such as asthma or hay fever.
Chronic eczema can severely impact a person’s life, it’s painful, unsightly and can hinder your ability to do normal activities.
Types of eczema
There are a number of different types of eczema but atopic eczema is the most common type, others include:
- Contact dermatitis
- Dyshidrotic eczema
- Nummular eczema
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Stasis dermatitis
What causes eczema?
There is no single cause of eczema, it is a complex condition that is caused by a number of factors. Some people are more susceptible to this skin condition if they are highly reactive to allergens or their body does not retain enough moisture and they have dry skin. Some people are also born with the likelihood of developing eczema their parents had this condition as eczema is hereditary.
Eczema may be caused by certain triggers or allergens. Fragrant products such as soap, detergents, makeup and perfume can irritate the skin and cause symptoms of eczema. Other environmental factors such as extreme weather conditions can trigger eczema, many people find that their eczema is worse during hot summers or freezing winters, and sudden changes in weather can worsen the condition of the skin.
Stress is another big cause of eczema. Stress affects our bodies in a number of ways and many people find that when their stress levels rise they have a bad flare up of eczema. Eczema can often make you stress and so it is a vicious cycle of trying to keep calm to avoid an eczema flare up while having eczema causes stress.
How does eczema affect a person’s life?
Eczema not only has a physical impact on a person, it can also affect people emotionally. The unsightly appearance of eczema can lower a person’s confidence and self esteem particularly if it is visible on the body, this may cause issues with socialising and interacting with other people. The pain and discomfort of eczema can severely impact a sufferer’s life, the itching can be frustrating and can keep you awake at night. Lots of eczema sufferers are sleep deprived and this lack of sleep can has its own consequences. Tiredness and fatigue caused by lack of sleep due to itching throughout the night affects productivity at work and can affect your mood. Continuous sleepless nights can eventually lead to serious medical conditions such as heart disease and obesity.
Are there complications of eczema?
If eczema is severe and left untreated you may develop complications. Complications may include asthma and hayfever as many people who have eczema also develop these allergy related conditions. If you’re repeatedly scratching broken skin this can cause skin infections and lead to a serious complication known as eczema herpeticum which is when the skin becomes infected with the herpes simplex virus. The itching, pain and discomfort of this skin condition may lead to sleep problems, particularly if you have flare ups at night. Sleep deprivation can become a serious complication if it is persistent and affecting your life. There’s also a risk of scarring if eczema is left untreated and you continue to itch broken skin.
There’s also a possibility of developing complications from corticosteroid treatment. Long term use may affect growth in children and strong corticosteroids may cause thinning of the skin. Strong corticosteroids should not be used on areas where the skin is already thin such as the face.
What treatments are available for eczema?
Unfortunately there is no cure for eczema but there are treatments available to reduce the symptoms and there are ways you can manage flare ups yourself. If you want to try helping your condition without the use of medicine there a few things you can do to help yourself. Firstly, if you are aware of your triggers it’s important to avoid them at all cost. There may not always be a trigger but you can work with your GP to establish whether there is a particular substance or environmental factor triggering your eczema, and if so you can work out what this is so you can avoid it and reduce your chances of a flare up.
Damage and scarring of the skin is caused by scratching which results in bleeding and soreness of the skin as well as infection. Although it’s easier said than done, not scratching will ease the pain and discomfort of eczema and help it to heal.
You can also make changes to your diet and lifestyle to help your condition. Some people have a food allergy which may cause symptoms of eczema, and some food are more prone to triggering eczema such as eggs and cow’s milk. If this is the cause of our eczema it may be that you need to cut certain foods out of your diet, however, you should only do this under the supervision of your doctor as your overall health will need to be assessed before depriving yourself of some nutrients.
Emollients are used to treat dry skin, mild eczema, and may be used alongside other treatments for severe eczema to keep the skin hydrated and moist. They protect the skin, reduce water loss, and are also anti-inflammatory and if used regularly they can prevent a flare up.
In some cases topical corticosteroids may be a necessary treatment if the skin has become sore and inflamed, and if there is a risk of infection. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and help to clear the eczema.
Alternative medication includes antihistamines to reduce the itch, corticosteroid tablets for severe flare ups, and bandages and wet wraps to protect the skin while it is being treated and to let it heal.