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Creams for Eczema– Guide to the Types of Eczema Creams Available

Using creams for eczema is one of the most common eczema treatments to help keep inflammation under control.  There are a variety of eczema creams, and the best type of cream depends on the type and severity of your condition.  Continue reading to learn the different types of eczema creams that are available.

Topical Steroid Creams

Cortisone or steroid creams are typically prescribed by physicians, though there are some available over the counter.  Steroid creams are especially effective for easing itchy skin, inflammation, and redness.  Steroid eczema creams vary in strength, ranging from mild, moderate, potent and very potent.  Factors including age, severity of eczema, and the size of the area and part of body determines the strength of a steroid cream a doctor prescribes. Below is a table of steroid creams and their corresponding strength:

StrengthChemical Name (Common Name)
Very PotentBetamethasone dipropionate, clobetasol propionate (Dermovate)
Diflucortolone valerate (Nerisone forte)
PotentBetamethasone dipropionate
Diflucortolone valerate
Fluticasone valerate
Hydrocortisone 17-butyrate
Mometasone furoate
Methylprednisolone aceponate, betamethasone valerate (Betnovate)
Fluocinolone acetonide (Synalar)
Mometasone furoate (Elocon)
Fluticasone propionate (Cutivate)
Moderately PotentClobetasone butyrate
Triamcinolone acetonide, betamethasone valerate (Betnovate RD)
Fluocinolone acetonide (1/4 Synalar)
ModerateClobetasone butyrate (Eumovate)
Aclometasone dipropionate (Modrasone)
MildHydrocortisone (generic, over the counter)

Using steroid creams may cause various side effects including thinning of the skin, skin discoloration, stretch marks, and immune system suppression.  Prolonged use may also lead to an intolerance to steroids.  Because of this, steroid creams should only be used for short term use as directed by a physician.   If the eczema condition worsens or is unresponsive to steroids, treatment needs to be re-evaluated.

Non prescription steroid cream for eczema

Of course, steroid creams are not the only creams for eczema available for prescription.  Elidel®(pimecrolimus)is such a cream for those with mild to moderate eczema.  It may also be prescribed for those who are unresponsive to steroid creams.  This cream works by changing the skin’s defense (immune) system, decreasing allergic reactions that cause eczema.

Elidel cream pimecrolimus

Like steroid creams Elidel® may cause side effects, especially after prolonged use.  Some side effects may include:  headaches, infections, sore throat, fever, rash, dizziness, and trouble breathing.  Elidel may also cause skin sensitivity to the sun.  The FDA has also found other severe side effects caused by Elidel® including various types of skin cancers and vitiligo.

If you decide to use Elidel® due to a doctor’s recommendation, it should only be used for a very short period of time.  Elidel® should not be used by those with a weakened immune system and never be used on babies under two years old.

Protopic is a non-steroidal prescription eczema cream for those with severe cases of eczema.  Protopic works as an immunosuppressant that works by decreasing cell activity in the body’s immune system to help slow down the growth of eczema on the skin.    Like Elidel, Protopic has a number of serious potential side effects and should be used only as a last resort if no other treatment has proven to be effective.  Protopic also increases the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight and is also linked to cancer.

Neosalus cream is a new non-steroidal cream introduced cleared by the FDA in April of 2009.  Neosalus works by providing a skin barrier while reducing inflammation.  Very little information such as indications and side effects is known about the cream at this time.

Over the Counter Creams

There are a number of eczema creams and lotions available over the counter.  A good eczema lotion or cream should be fairly thick and unscented.  Below are the most effective and commonly used creams and lotions:

Antihistamines
Antihistamines are applied to the skin to help alleviate itching, reducing the risk of infection and helping eczema rashes to heal faster.  The most common antihistamine cream is Benadryl.

Moisturizing and Softening Creams
Unscented moisturizing creams help to maintain moisture in the skin while help avoiding rashes.  The best creams are unscented and are non-irritants. Vaseline petroleum jelly is effective for maintaining rash-free skin.  Creams such as Aquaphor and Eucerin are popular thick ointments that are known to be very useful as well.  Aveeno Eczema Care moisturizing cream is another unscented and gentle cream that is popular among eczema sufferers, especially those with sensitive skin.

Eczema Lotion
In addition to creams, there are a variety of lotions that are help maintain the skin’s moisture.  Like creams, it is important to use emollient lotions that are unscented and non-irritating.  Eczema lotions such as Lubriderm and Moisturel Therpeutic, lotion are very useful for skin that has open and weepy rashes.  Other good eczema lotions include Cetaphil, Aveeno, Dermarest, and Eucerin.

Natural Creams For Eczema

There are also a number of natural eczema creams on the market that provide relief without negative side effects. Natural/organic creams for usually contain herbal elements that treat eczema holistically. However, not all “natural” eczema creams are created equal, so it is especially important to read the ingredients to make sure there is truly no synthetic or irritating ingredients. You can read more about natural eczema creams here.

So what is the best cream for you?  Well that depends on the type of eczema and the severity of the condition.  There is no “magic bullet” cream that will work for everyone.  Since every case of eczema is unique, you may need to try more than one cream/lotion to find the one that will work best for you.

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