EczemaNet Article
Proper Treatment Helps Ease Burden of Eczema

When a child develops eczema (atopic dermatitis), parents often feel helpless. The patches of dry, inflamed, and intensely itchy skin can be uncomfortable — and even painful.

And the effects can be more than skin deep. If your child is in school, visible patches can cause other kids to bully and tease. Eczema also can make it difficult to concentrate at school. The intense itch can make it impossible to pay attention in class.

It can be difficult for parents to know what to do to help ease a child’s discomfort. There is so much conflicting information available. The following facts can help you make an informed decision.

Eczema must be managed; it cannot be cured.
It is easy to find products that guarantee to cure eczema in just a few weeks. These claims give parents false hope. The truth is eczema cannot be cured, but most cases can be controlled with proper treatment.

Dermatologists recommend early treatment for eczema.
Eczema can be a chronic (long-lasting) condition. Receiving proper treatment early helps prevent the disease from becoming worse. The more severe eczema becomes, the more difficult it is to manage.

The medicines that dermatologists prescribe are safe when used as directed.
This fact is often difficult for parents to believe. The information that comes with topical (applied to the skin) medicine prescribed for eczema contains warnings that can be frightening.

The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) believes these warnings confuse and unnecessarily worry people. There is no data to prove that with proper use, topical (applied to the skin) pimecrolimus and tacrolimus are dangerous. The data come from using these medicines in pill form. When applied to the skin, virtually none of the medicine gets inside the body. The Academy believes that these are valuable medicines. When used properly, they significantly reduce the debilitating impact of eczema and allow millions of people to live normal lives.

Nonetheless, these warnings can be frightening. This often leads parents to avoid these medicines or use them too sparingly. Either approach often allows eczema to get worse. Then more costly and aggressive medicine is usually needed.

Using the medicines as prescribed helps to control eczema and keep it from progressing. Dermatologists have the knowledge needed to use these medicines safely.

Alternative therapies are not a substitute for proven medical treatment.
A completely safe, all-natural treatment that eliminates eczema certainly sounds wonderful. If such a therapy existed, your dermatologist would tell you. The truth is that there are thousands of alternative treatments. This suggests that nothing works well.

If you want to try alternative medicines, dermatologists caution that you:

  • Consult a dermatologist and not forgo the recommended medical treatment. Delaying conventional medical treatment puts a child at risk for developing more severe eczema.

  • Tell your dermatologist about any alternative therapy that you use. Some can cause dangerous interactions when used with conventional medicine.

Proper treatment can be time-consuming and messy.
A treatment plan prescribed by your dermatologist can be time-consuming. Keeping eczema under control requires daily care. All the fuss and mess can be unpleasant for a child, especially in the beginning. After a particularly tiring day, many parents wonder if all the fuss is worth it.

Research shows that sticking with the plan significantly improves a child’s outcome. It also can reduce the need for medication over time.

A written action plan can help.
Treatment can vary from day to day. If the skin looks good, you may just need to bathe the child and moisturize the skin twice that day. A moderate flare-up requires a different approach. Asking your dermatologist to provide you with a one-page written action plan can help alleviate any confusion.

Trust Your Dermatologist
By seeing a dermatologist, you can help control your child’s eczema. This can bring relief that is more than skin deep.

More Information
Moisturizing and Cleansing Key to Treating Atopic Dermatitis
Safe and Effective Eczema Medications for Young Children
Bleach Baths May Help Control Atopic Dermatitis

American Academy of Dermatology. “Alternative Therapies for Fighting Eczema Hold Promise, But Dermatologists Caution They Are No Substitute for Proven Medical Treatments.” News release issued July 29, 2009. Available at:
Last accessed December 17, 2009.

American Academy of Dermatology. “American Academy of Dermatology Issues Statement in Response to FDA Decision Related to Two Eczema Medications.” News release issued March 10, 2005. Available at:
Last accessed December 17, 2009.

Chisolm SS, Taylor SL, Balkrishnan R et al. “Written action plans: potential for improving outcomes in children with atopic dermatitis.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. October 2008; 59: 677-83.

All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

In this article, the word “eczema” refers only to atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema that usually begins before age 5.







© American Academy of Dermatology, 2010  All rights reserved.

Page last updated 1/13/10

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