Eczema creams, such as dexamethasone, betamethasone, pimecrolimus or tacrolimus ointment, have anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive action, which help to manage the symptoms of eczema, and prevent flare-ups.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammation of the skin, which can affect babies, children, teenagers or adults, causing symptoms such as dry skin, red plaques, intense itching or swelling of the skin. Learn more about the symptoms of eczema and what can cause it.
Eczema creams should be used as prescribed by dermatologist, after evaluating the patient's age, symptoms and health history, as these are all factors in determining the best treatment approach.
Ointments for eczema
The main creams for eczema are:
Betamethasone ointment may be prescribed by a dermatologist to help reduce inflammation in the skin and relieve symptoms of eczema such as itching, swelling and redness of the skin.
Betamethasone is a corticosteroid that has potent anti-inflammatory action, and can be found in its generic form under the name “betamethasone dipropionate” 0.5 mg/g or “betamethasone valerate” 1mg/g.
Betamethasone ointment should only be used as prescribed, as it can cause side effects such as skin atrophy, discoloration, stretch marks, or increase the risk of skin infections. It should not be used by children under 1 year of age, nor pregnant or breastfeeding women.
How to use: apply a thin layer of the ointment to the affected skin, 1 or 2 times a day, as advised by the dermatologist, for a maximum of 4 weeks of treatment.
Dexamethasone is another corticosteroid in the form of an ointment with powerful anti-inflammatory action. It works by controlling skin inflammation and relieving symptoms such as redness, swelling or itchiness caused by eczema.
This ointment can be found in its generic form under the name "dexamethasone acetate” 1 mg/g, and should not be used by children, pregnant women or people who are allergic to dexamethasone or other corticosteroids.
Furthermore, corticosteroid ointments should be avoided in areas where the skin is thinner, such as the face, neck or groin, for example.
How to use: apply to the affected skin region 2 or 3 times a day, massaging gently for better absorption, until symptoms improve. It is recommended to wash your hands and affected skin with water and neutral soap and dry well before applying the ointment. Read more about the uses of dexamethasone and its possible side effects.]
Desoximethasone ointment is also a corticosteroid ointment indicated for the treatment of eczema. It helps to reduce inflammation in the skin and relieve the symptoms of eczema.
This cream can be found in pharmacies or drugstores in strengths of 2.5 mg/g.
Desoximethasone ointment should not be used by babies or children under 6 years of age, during pregnancy or lactation, or by people who have perioral dermatitis or allergies to any other type of corticosteroid.
How to use: apply a small amount of the ointment to the affected skin, massaging lightly, 1 to 2 times a day, as advised by your doctor. The duration of use of this ointment is a maximum of 4 weeks of treatment.
Fluticasone is a topical corticosteroid that can also be prescribe to alleviate the symptoms of eczema due to its powerful anti-inflammatory effect.
This ointment contains 0.5 mg/g (0.05%) of fluticasone propionate, and should only be used as prescribed.
Fluticasone ointment should not be used by children under 1 year of age, during pregnancy and lactation.
How to use: apply a thin layer of the ointment to the affected skin, 1 to 2 times a day, as directed by your doctor, for a maximum of 4 weeks of treatment.
Neomycin ointment is generally found in combination with ketoconazole and betamethasone, and can be recommended by the doctor for the treatment of eczema from skin infections, It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal actions.
This ointment should only be used as prescribed, and use is contraindicated during pregnancy or breastfeeding, or by people who have skin infections caused by chickenpox, herpes simplex or zoster, cutaneous tuberculosis or cutaneous syphilis.
How to use: apply a thin layer of the ointment to the affected skin, 1 to 2 times a day, for a maximum of 2 weeks of treatment, as prescribed.
Tacrolimus is an immunosuppressive ointment that works by reducing the action of the immune system. This can help to alleviate the symptoms of moderate to severe eczema, when other treatments have not been effective in controlling symptoms, or in cases of people who cannot tolerate other treatments.
Furthermore, this ointment can be indicated as a maintenance treatment to prevent new eczema flare-ups, or to alleviate symptoms and control attacks. It should only be used as prescribed, and is contraindicated for children under 2 years of age, pregnant or lactating women.
Tacrolimus ointment can be found in different doses, containing 0.3 mg/g (0.03%) of tacrolimus, which can be used by children aged 2 years to 15 years, or 1 mg /g (0.1%) of tacrolimus, indicated for adults and adolescents over 16 years of age.
How to use: For children between 2 and 15 years old, a thin layer of tacrolimus ointment 0.3 mg/g (0.03%) should be applied to the affected skin region, twice a day, for up to 3 weeks treatment.
For adolescents over 16 years of age and adults, tacrolimus ointment 1 mg/g (0.1%) should be applied to the affected skin, twice a day, until the lesions disappear.
Pimecrolimus ointment is another immunosuppressive ointment. It is generally indicated for mild to moderate eczema, as it helps to relieve symptoms such as redness or itching of the skin.
This ointment can be recommended by a doctor for babies over 3 months, children, teenagers and adults.
Unlike corticosteroids, immunosuppressive ointments can be applied to areas with thinner skin, such as the face, neck or groin, after hydration, however, sun exposure should be avoided after application.
How to use: apply a thin layer of the ointment to the affected skin, twice a day, massaging lightly until completely absorbed. The treatment time must be guided by the doctor.
In addition to ointments, cases of generalized eczema or atopic dermatitis that have not improved with topical ointments can be treated with corticosteroid tablets or immunosuppressants.
Ointment for childhood eczema
Treatment of childhood eczema should be guided by a pediatrician or dermatologist and usually involves the use of moisturizers and emollients for the skin. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms of itching, irritation, redness or swelling of the skin.
In some cases, the doctor may recommend the use of corticosteroid ointments at the lowest possible dose and treatment time, as well as immunosuppressive ointments, and/or antibiotic ointment, if the child presents with a skin infection.
It is important to emphasize that ointments for eczema in babies or children should only be used as prescribed after a pediatrician has assessed the child's symptoms and health status.
Care when using creams
Some precautions when using eczema creams include:
- Wash the skin with water and neutral soap, and dry well before applying the ointment
- Wash your hands after applying the ointment, except in cases where the ointment is used to treat the skin of the hands
- Apply the ointment at the right times as indicated by the doctor
- Make regular medical appointments to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment and the emergence of side effects
- Avoid taking medication on your own and without medical advice
- Do not increase or decrease the dose of the ointment without being instructed by your doctor
- Do not interrupt treatment on your own
- Avoid sun exposure, artificial tanning or phototherapy during treatment with ointments, as this can make the skin more sensitive
- Wear cotton clothes, avoiding synthetic fabrics
- Avoid applying perfume or scented lotions to your skin
- Avoid contact with substances that can develop or worsen symptoms, such as pollen or pool water
- Avoid very hot environments that encourage sweating
- Avoid taking very hot and prolonged baths, as they dry out the skin
- Dry your skin after bathing with a soft towel
In addition, you should use the skin moisturizer recommended by your doctor daily to retain and maintain skin moisture. This can help soothe the skin and prevent it from drying out, which can worsen symptoms or trigger flare-ups.
It is important that this care is continued even when the eczema symptoms have resolved, to prevent the skin from becoming too dry.