Topical Medication For Eczema? Quick Guide 2022

 

You’re itchy. You’re stressed. You’re tired. 

Yup - you’re in a flare up. AGAIN. For like the 3rd time in recent months. And you’re so ready to be done with eczema and finally bid it farewell for good. 

So you book yourself in to see the doctor (dejavu) and the best they can muster is another prescription for topical medication at just a slightly higher strength than last time. 

Of course you take it, I mean why wouldn’t you? It’s recommended. You’re fed up. Nobody blames you! 

And whilst of course topical medication (also referred to as topical steroids) can be a viable treatment plan for many with eczema symptoms, we want to shed light on the subject from a different perspective. 

In this article, you’ll find: 

1) What are topical medications and how do they work?

2) What types are there?

3) How are topical medications used?

4) Side effects and risks

5) Alternative treatment options 

Let’s get to it! 

So, what are topical medications and how do they work? 

Topical steroids are an anti-inflammatory medication that work by suppressing the activity of certain immune cells, which can interrupt the inflammatory process and help to prevent redness, itching and swelling. 

They are very different to anabolic steroids, which are frequently misused for athletic performance. 

What types are there? 

There are over 30 different types of topical steroids that can be used for the treatment of eczema. The main difference comes down to each creams potency, which can roughly be divided into the four following groups: 

1) Low potency - e.g hydrocortisone - Class 4

2) Moderate potency - Class 3

3) High potency - Class 2

4) Ultra-high potency - Class 1

Usually the more severe your symptoms - the higher the potency required to get your flare up under control. And when it comes to parts of the body, think Class 2 for the soles of your feet and Class 4 for your face. 

And yup, you guessed it - the longer you use topical medication on your skin, the less effective it becomes. This is what leads eczema sufferers to slowly, but gradually, increase the regularity of use and strength of cream, just to try and maintain the same results. 

How are topical medications used? 

Topical steroids are applied to the affected area of skin one or two times a day, usually in the morning and evening. This treatment is then continued until the inflammation and itchiness of the skin has ceased - which depending on symptoms could be three days or three weeks. 

It’s important that topical steroids are only used at times when a flare up demands it - not generally - and stopped when severe symptoms have subsided. 

Moisturiser should be used in conjunction, although doctors usually recommend waiting 15 minutes between the application of both to ensure the topical medication is absorbed completely and properly into the skin. 

Side effects and risks

Now then, this is where it gets a little interesting. 

As we said - we’re not staunchly against the use of steroids, since they can provide symptomatic relief when used carefully. 

Our issue is that when overused, steroids can cause long term adverse effects that might damage your skin.

Just picture the scenario - you’ve been struggling with your skin for weeks. It’s dry. It’s inflamed. And you’re upset and emotionally drained at the toll it’s taking on your body and your mind. 

Then your doctor prescribes topical steroids and wow! Your symptoms clear up within a matter of days. No more itchy skin, no more troubles. So you keep using it. Just in case, right? I mean your skin hasn’t looked this good in months and you have that party next weekend, just one more day won’t hurt. 

Then suddenly you're 6 months down the road, you’ve gone up in strength to a different steroid class, and without realising you’re experiencing unwanted side effects. 

The side effects can include: 

- Thinning of the skin - particularly prevalent the higher strength cream you use

- Wrinkles

- Permanent stretch marks, bruising, discolouration or thin spidery blood vessels (telangiectasias)

- Hair growth on the area of skin where the cream is applied

- Development of an allergy to the ingredients used

- High blood pressure

- Bone damage (thinning) 

There’s also the possibility you could suffer from topical steroid withdrawal. A particularly stressful and emotionally draining experience where your body adversely reacts to coming off steroid treatment. 

This leads to an on-again off-again cycle which can be physically and mentally exhausting. 

Alternative treatment options

Clearly the side effects above are no joke. Thinking it might be best to avoid them? We don’t blame you. 

Essentially what you need is a treatment that will: 

- Stop the need to itch

- Reduce inflammation and swelling

- Help to nourish dry skin

And as luck would have it (thanks to going through the same painful experiences ourselves) we have developed a plant-based treatment that does just that!

Our calming spray is enriched with a blend of 3 traditional Chinese herbs used for centuries in Asian medicine to combat the symptoms of eczema-prone skin. 

Specifically designed to stop itchy skin and reduce inflammation, it’s highly effective at getting that flare up under control. 

And of course, it’s steroid free. So you don’t need to worry about any of those nasty side effects. 

We know, aren’t we just the best :)

Final word

Topical medications can be an effective treatment for eczema when used in very small doses, sensibly and in a controlled environment.

But if there’s a natural alternative out there that might be able to help in a similar way, why not give it a shot? (At least that’s our thinking anyway). 

If you’re currently going through any of the experiences we’ve mentioned above and are struggling mentally, make sure you reach out to a health professional and seek support. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved :)

What have we missed? Jump over to our Twitter page and let us know! 

With care, 

The yan-yee team

Sources

- Immune response. (2020). Link

- Topical steroids. (2020). Link

- Telangiectasia (Spider Veins). (2018). Link

- Medication for eczema and dermatitis. (n.d.). Link

- Eczema: Steroids and other topical medications. (2017). Link

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