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Which cream/ointment should be used to treat eczema?

Two types of creams are used to treat eczema: anti-inflammatory creams and emollient creams. Understanding the role of each cream helps to optimize treatment.

Anti-inflammatory creams

The first type of cream is anti-inflammatory, essentially a topical corticosteroid. These are medicinal creams prescribed by physicians. Topical corticosteroids ensure the elimination of eczema plaques, generally after a few days, when applied once a day.

There are a large number of topical corticosteroids on the market, but they are not all the same. There are four levels of strength, which are selected according to the patient's age, the location of the plaques, their spread and their appearance.

The choice of texture (cream, ointment, lotion, gel, etc.) is essential since it determines absorption into the skin and therefore the efficacy of the treatment.

Patients shouldn't be afraid of using topical corticosteroids, they are safe eczema treatments that are well tolerated when used according to the medical prescription. It must also be noted that medical devices in the form of soothing repair creams have been proven beneficial in accelerating treatment of plaques (by applying the repair cream above the topical corticosteroid, like a dressing) and limiting their reappearance (by applying the repair cream to the areas usually affected by eczema).

Emollient creams

The second type of cream is an emollient cream. These are creams prescribed by a physician or recommended by a pharmacist. Emollients fight against dryness in the skin and make it supple and soft. These creams can be applied every day, all over the skin, on areas without eczema plaques.

There are also several textures of emollient creams available to adapt to all levels of skin dryness: creams and lotions in cases of moderate dryness, or in summer; balms and ointments in case of severe dryness, or in winter.

Using cream every day

Here are some routines to follow every day: ​

In the evening after your shower, apply the cream as if painting:
  • on all areas that are red, rough or itchy, apply the topical corticosteroid and/or the medical device;
  • for the rest of the body, apply the emollient.

On days when there are no red areas, don't forget to apply the emollient!