Medications for Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
En Español (Spanish Version)

The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.

The following medications may be recommended or prescribed by your doctor to treat eczema. In particular, consult with your doctor before giving any medications to infants or younger children.

Prescription Medications
Corticosteroids

  • Triamcinolone (Aristocort, Delta-Tritex, Flutex, Kenac, Kenalog, Kenonel, Tidreferm)
  • Hydrocortisone valerate (Westcort)
  • Clobetasol (Temovate)
Nonsteroidal immunomodulators

  • Pimecrolimus (Elidel)
  • Tacrolimus (Prograf)
  • Cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune)
  • Azathioprine (Azasan)
Antibiotics

  • Cephadroxil (Duricef)
  • Dicloxacillin (Dynapen)
Antihistamines

  • Hydroxyzine (Atarax)
  • Levocetirizine (Xyzal)
Prescription Moisturizers

  • Atopiclair
  • Mimyx
Prescription or Over-the-Counter Medications
Antihistamines

  • Diphenhydramine (AllerMax, Aller-Med, Banophen, Benadryl, Compoz, Diphen Cough, Diphenhist, Dormarex 2, Genahist, Hyrexin, Nervine, Nytol, Siladryl, Sleep-Eze D, Sominex, Twilite, Unisom)
  • Clemastine (Contac, Tavist)
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
  • Loratadine (Claritin)
Prescription Medications
Corticosteroids
There are many different corticosteroid ointments and creams available in a variety of strengths. In general, ointments are used for dry skin and creams for moist rashes. The following are among the most commonly used corticosteroids:

Common names include:

  • Triamcinolone (Aristocort, Delta-Tritex, Flutex, Kenac, Kenalog, Kenonel, Tidreferm)
  • Hydrocortisone valerate (Westcort)
  • Prednisone (oral)
  • Clobetasol (Temovate)
Corticosteroids are a type of steroid medication used to help relieve swelling, itching, and redness of skin. They are usually used topically as creams or ointments, but can be used orally as pills or even by IV in extreme rare cases. Carefully follow directions for use, and do not use this medication for longer than prescribed.

Possible side effects include:

  • Thinning of the skin
  • Skin infections
  • Growth suppression in children—with long-term oral prednisone
  • Stretch marks on the skin
Nonsteroidal Topical Immunomodulators
Common names include:

  • Tacrolimus (Protopic)
  • Pimecrolimus (Elidel)
These nonsteroidal topical medications are used for the short-term and intermittent or long-term treatment of mild to moderate eczema in patients age two and older. These topicals may be used on all parts of the body, including delicate areas such as the face, neck, and skin folds, where corticosteroids are usually not recommended long-term.

Possible side effects include temporary mild warmth, burning, or itching.

Antibiotics
If you develop a bacterial skin infection, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. These may be given orally, topically, or even by IV for severe infections requiring hospitalization. The type of drug and dosage will depend on your skin infection.

Antihistamines
Common names include:

  • Hydroxyzine (Atarax)
Your doctor may recommend an antihistamine to help relieve itching. Since they cause drowsiness, they are especially useful at night.

Side effects include:

  • Drowsiness—Do not drive a car or operate heavy machinery until you know how these drugs affect you.
  • Dry mouth, nose, or throat
Prescription or Over-the-Counter Medications
Antihistamines
Common names include:

  • Diphenhydramine (AllerMax, Aller-Med, Banophen, Benadryl, Compoz, Diphen Cough, Diphenhist, Dormarex 2, Genahist, Hyrexin, Nervine, Nytol, Siladryl, Sleep-Eze D, Sominex, Twilite, Unisom)
  • Clemastine (Contac, Tavist)
Your doctor may recommend a nonprescription antihistamine to help relieve itching. Since they cause drowsiness, they are especially useful at night.

Side effects include:

  • Drowsiness—Do not drive a car or operate heavy machinery until you know how these drugs affect you
  • Dry mouth, nose, or throat
Special Considerations
Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:

  • Take your medicines as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not share them.
  • Ask what results and side effects to expect. Report them to your doctor.
  • Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medicines and herb or dietary supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.



References:
Atopic dermatitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 3, 2013. Accessed November 21, 2013.

Last Reviewed November 2013



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