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Treating Eczema With Over-The-Counter Medications

By Staff Writer

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Treating EczemaEczema ¾also known as dermatitis¾is a red, itchy rash on the upper layers of the skin. Keeping the skin soft and supple is important in treating and preventing the disease. Unscented moisturizers containing petroleum jelly such as Vaseline are effective in maintaining rash-free skin. When the skin is dry, the thicker ointments and pastes such as Aquaphor® Healing Ointment or Eucerin® products are the most useful. Unscented bath oils can be helpful as well. When the skin is open and weepy, the lotions and liquids such as Lubriderm® or Moisturel® Therapeutic Lotion are better. Cold wet dressings rapidly stop inflammation and itching by causing evaporation of the wet skin, Soak a clean cotton cloth in cool water, apply the cloth to the skin for 20 minutes, four to six times a day. Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), are taken by mouth or applied to the skin to help stop the itching that comes with eczema. This reduces the risk of infection, and can help the rash heal faster. For rashes that are inflamed and do not respond to moisturizers, a small amount of a hydrocortisone cream such as Cortizone-10® can help a great deal. They decrease inflammation, stop itching, and help the rash heal faster. Tar can also be used as an initial therapy for recurring, superficial plaques that are dry and scaly. Tar in a lubricating base can be applied twice daily.

Sources: Mayo Clinic Family Health Book. William Morrow & Co.,1996.The Merck Manual of Medical Information: Home Edition. Merck & Co., 1997.Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs. American Pharmaceutical Association, 2000.Leung, D.Y., L. Diaz, V. DeLeo, N. Soter, "Allergic and Immunologic Skin Disorders" Journal of the American Medical Association. 278 (1997). Medline Plus. Medline, 2007.Diseases and Conditions, "Dermatitis/Eczema." http://www.mayoclinic.com. Mayo Clinic Health. Last accessed 1/9/2007.Drug Facts and Comparisons. Facts & Comparisons, 2007.This answer prepared 11/2/2000.This information updated 1/9/2007.

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