Currently, no laboratory tests confirm the diagnosis of eczema. Since eczema looks like a variety of different skin disorders, your doctor will ask you questions about when the condition appeared, if the condition is associated with any changes in environment or contact with certain substances, and whether it is aggravated in any specific situations. Your physician may take a skin biopsy to rule out other skin disorders. If your doctor suspects that your rash may be due to allergies, a patch test may be ordered.
The goals for the treatment of eczema are to control itching, inflammation and worsening of the condition. This may involve using both oral and/or topical medications as well as lifestyle changes to avoid substances that aggravate the skin.
To avoid outbreaks, it is best to keep the skin well-hydrated by applying creams, ointments, and lotions that have alow water content and high oil content creams. It is also important to avoid over-bathing, which may further dry out the skin. Tars and extracts of crude coal tar are often used to decrease the amount of topical steroids needed in chronic maintenance of eczema. Corticosteroid creams may be prescribed to decrease skin inflammation and oral antihistamines may be prescribed for severe itching.
For acute outbreaks, a short course of oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone, may be prescribed. Ultraviolet light therapy is also a treatment option that can be used alone or in conjunction with topical treatments. It is often used to treat those who have not responded to other treatment options.
Reviewed by Gauri Khurana, MD