Eczema is a skin inflammation that itches. Most common in children, the condition is chronic and can last into adulthood. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema, affecting 10 to 20 percent of children and 1 to 3 percent of adults, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Corticosteroids, either oral or in topical creams or ointments, are the most common treatment for eczema, which has no cure. There are a variety of reasons, like allergic reactions or severe side effects, that you may need to get rid of eczema without steroids. Fortunately, there are other effective ways of preventing and treating outbreaks.
Avoid irritants that can trigger eczema outbreaks. According to FamilyDoctor.org, these commonly include detergents and cleaning products, wool and synthetic clothing materials, aftershave, some soaps, gasoline, turpentine and other solvents. Additionally, different foods can act as triggers in some individuals. Heat, sweat and stress are other common triggers.
Bathe in only cool or warm water, using a mild moisturizing soap. Soak for about 15 minutes and gently pat skin dry. Use a moisturizing emollient within three minutes of getting out of the bath or shower to lock in hydration. The National Eczema Society recommends ointments, except for weeping eczema, for which you should use creams or lotions. It says lotions are the least effective option.
Apply a cream to eczema to stop the itching and prevent scratching, which will further irritate the skin and worsen the condition. The Mayo Clinic recommends calamine lotion. It also recommends creams made with hydrocortisone, but be aware that these include corticosteroids.
Take an oral antihistamine to subdue itchiness. The Mayo Clinic notes out that many, like diphenhydramine, will make you drowsy, so limit use to bedtime.
Ask your doctor about immunomodulators. An alternative to corticosteroids for getting rid of eczema, these medications are approved for use in children over 2 years of age, according to the Mayo Clinic. Tacrolimus and pimecrolimus are commonly used immunomodulators, which alter the immune system to promote normal skin texture and prevent eczema flare-ups. As there is concern about the long-term effects of these medications, you should use them infrequently and only when other preventative measures and remedies don't work.
Ask your dermatologist about phototherapy, or light therapy. Another non-steroidal eczema treatment option, phototherapy uses controlled exposure to natural or artificial light to treat skin. Light therapy can increase the risk of skin cancers and be damaging to skin long term. Whether this is a reasonable option depends on many individual factors that you should discuss with your dermatologist.