Keep the skin moist (called lubricating or moisturizing the skin). Use ointments (such as petroleum jelly), creams, or lotions. Moisturizers:
- Should be free of alcohol, scents, dyes, fragrances, or other chemicals.
- Work best when they're applied to skin that is wet or damp. After washing or bathing, pat the skin dry and then apply the moisturizer right away.
- May be used at different times of the day. For the most part, you can apply these substances as often as you need, to keep your skin soft.
You can buy medicines that help you stop scratching without first seeing your doctor .
- Take an anti-itch medicine before bed if you scratch in your sleep.
- Newer antihistamines cause little or no sleepiness. These include fexofenadine (Allegra), loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and diphenhydramine (Benadryl).
Topical corticosteroids are medicines used to treat eczema.
- Topical means you place it on the skin. You will be prescribed a cream or ointment. Topical corticosteroids may also be called topical steroids or topical cortisones.
- Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor advises you to.
Your doctor may also prescribe other creams or ointments, such as tacrolimus or pimecrolimus, to use on the skin.
If symptoms are very bad, you may need other treatments, such as:
- Steroid pills
- Coal tar preparations
- Phototherapy (ultraviolet light therapy)