Q & A Library
Itching to Beat Eczema?
How can I get rid of arm eczema without using steroids?
Answer (Published 2/7/2003)
Eczema, an allergy-related skin condition, is characterized by red, scaly dry patches that are extremely itchy. The disorder is especially common in young adults, children and infants. Dermatologists usually treat it with topical steroids, but I believe these drugs only suppress the problem and may worsen it over time. Steroids can also negatively impact immunity. A new class of drugs introduced recently may be better. In clinical trials, these agents, called topical immunomodulators, or TIMS, appear more effective than steroids with fewer side effects So far, however, only one of these new drugs, tacrolimus, has been approved by the FDA.
My approach, outlined below, does not rely on drugs at all and has worked well for many of my patients:
In addition, be sure to bathe or shower as quickly as possible, and use a non-perfumed moisturizing soap. Apply a thick moisturizing cream immediately after patting yourself dry - don't rub your skin when you towel dry your body.
(You also may want to look into hot spring water - many Japanese doctors believe that daily mineral soaks can relieve eczema symptoms. If you happen to live near a hot spring, go for a dip to see if it helps.)
Andrew Weil, M.D.
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