Health A-Z

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Your doctor should review your skin care routine. Your doctor can ensure you are doing everything possible to prevent symptoms.

But sometimes eczema remains bothersome despite these measures.

Your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid ointment or cream. In atopic dermatitis, mild or medium strength topical steroids generally are used. These are applied to the affected areas of the skin.

Strong steroids and oral antihistamines may be needed to treat allergic contact dermatitis.

If there are signs of bacterial skin infection, oral antibiotics usually are needed.

Sometimes, in very severe cases of eczema, your doctor will prescribe a short course of oral steroids or stronger immunosuppressants. However, these medications can have serious side effects. They must be used cautiously.

In some people, treatment with ultraviolet (UV) light is another option.

Seborrhea in adults is best treated with dandruff shampoo. Occasionally prescription antifungal facial creams or rinses may be needed.

Cradle cap in infants eventually clears up without treatment. However, it can last several months. The crust usually can be loosened. To do so, apply baby oil to the scalp 30 to 60 minutes before brushing with a soft brush. Then wash with baby shampoo.

When treating a contact allergy in a child, avoid topical treatments containing antihistamines. Skin reactions can occur.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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