What are the treatments for atopic dermatitis?

Treatments for atopic dermatitis aim to reduce the symptoms of intense itching and redness. Furthermore, this pathology presents itself with colored plaques with marked vesicles, skin folds and scales, depending on the evolutionary stage in which it is found.

It is manifested by outbreaks that appear and resolve intermittently throughout life.. A article published in Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism he points out that almost 20% of the pediatric population suffers from it. There are several treatment options. Do you know what they are? We detail them below.

Treatments for atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is not curable and many patients will experience a chronic course of the disease. Consequentially, treatment is aimed at reducing the duration and extent of the rashif it occurs, as well as minimizing the number of outbreaks.


The use of emollients in the treatment of atopic dermatitis is a key part. They should be applied several times a day. A review by American journal of clinical dermatology has shown that their systematic use reduces the need for corticosteroid creams.

The main reason for the intensive use of an emollient is its ability to increase hydration of the epidermis, especially by reducing evaporation, as it acts as an occlusive layer over the skin.

It is recommended to use a thick cream or ointment, high in fat, for the driest skin. On the other hand, creams and lotions with a higher water content are only used for very mild eczema. It is important that this choice prefer the absence of fragrances and other potential allergens, as they can cause secondary allergic sensitization.

Emollient creams for atopic dermatitis.
Emollients are a valid option to deal with the pathology.

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Topical corticosteroids

Topical corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment for moderate and severe atopic dermatitis. In both children and adults, they are a viable option. They are hierarchically grouped into different classes according to their vasoconstrictor capacity, i.e. their power to narrow the caliber of the arteries. Preparations can be mild, moderate, strong and very strong.

Corticosteroid creams are used to treat flare-ups of atopic dermatitis and for maintenance therapy. That is, they act to prevent relapse of the disease when the acute epidemic is under control.

In his opinion British medical journalfor the treatment of acute outbreaks a daily application of the cream with the lowest potency is recommended which is considered sufficient to clear eczema in 1 to 2 weeks. The beginning of the approaches always respects the progression from minor to major.

Calcineurin inhibitors

Pimecrolimus and tacrolimus creams are newer formulations used for the treatment of acute exacerbations and for maintenance therapy. Second Education Journal of Dermatological Sciencesin moderate to severe atopic dermatitis topical tacrolimus is as effective as moderately potent corticosteroids and more effective than mild ones.

Side effects of corticosteroids, such as thinning of the skin, are not seen with topical calcineurin inhibitors. This allows for daily application for longer periods.

Phototherapy as a treatment for atopic dermatitis

Diffuse eczema benefits from ultraviolet light treatment. Narrowband UVB light is suitable for treating adults with recalcitrant eczema.

Broadband UVA light can also be used and demonstrates a similar efficacy and tolerability profile as narrowband UVB, according to publications of Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. At medium doses, UVA phototherapy has an efficacy and tolerability profile similar to that of narrowband UVB.

Difficult-to-treat atopic dermatitis often resolves with phototherapy in 1 to 2 months, if sessions are arranged three to five times a week. It is common to combine it with topical corticosteroids.

Symptoms of eczema on hands.
The itching and redness of the disease appears in acute episodes throughout life.

Read also: What is phototherapy and what is it for?

Systemic immunosuppressants

Due to the risk of side effects, Prolonged continuation of oral corticosteroid therapy is not recommended. Instead, drugs indicates in a review which should be gradually tapered while a second immunosuppressive drug is introduced for very severe chronic relapsing atopic dermatitis.

Other medicines

Oral antihistamines are recommended to relieve itching., but have no effect on the activity of eczema. Non-sedating antihistamines should be used, although when nocturnal itching interferes with sleep, the others are recommended.

The difference is drowsiness which appears as an adverse effect in many of these drugs. In any case, in patients with difficulty resting, they can be useful.

Treatment of atopic dermatitis: what to consider?

Treatment of atopic dermatitis requires an individual and complex approach. It is essential to manage the triggers, as well as the correct hygiene habits.

Topical or systemic treatments must be adapted to the severity and extent of the disease. For this, it is essential to carry out the relevant consultation with the dermatology professional.

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