Skin dryness is common in eczema. Using moisturizing lotions alone may not suffice to keep skin adorately hydrated; creams or ointments that lubricate the skin may be needed instead. Creams and ointments are both heavier than lotions, and act by creating a seal over the skin, thus preventing the loss of water. Skin lubricants should be used every day, and applied all over the body for maximum effect. They should be applied within three minutes of bathing, and after a steroid cream if one is also being applied. Some brands of lubricant creams are Eucerin, Lubriderm and Cetaphil. For more severe dry skin, ointments such as Aquaphor can be used.
Steroid creams are one of the most common treatments for eczema. They act by reducing the local inflammatory reaction that occurs in skin affected by eczema, and then offer relief against itching. While milder steroid creams are available over the counter, stronger ones are available by prescription and should only be used under direct medical supervision. Steroid creams should not be used in children unless prescribed by a doctor, and then only for the shortest possible time at the lowest effective strength. This is because steroids can interfere with growth, disrupt normal hormone levels and cause skin thinning and permanent damage. With stronger steroid creams, it is important to taper off their use gradually, as directed by a physician.
Elidel and Protopic are two creams that act as immune modulators, or drugs that suppress the body's immune system in some way. Both these creams have recently been linked to certain skin cancers and to lymphoma, and the US Food and Drug Administration has asked their manufacturers to place warnings on their labels. While these creams are very effective in treating eczema, they should be used with caution, and only in more severe cases.