According to the National Eczema Association, the top medications to treat eczema are topical corticosteroids and topical calcineurin inhibitors. Corticosteroids control eczema by reducing inflammation. Topical calcineurin inhibitors do not contain steroids but may be associated with other risks.Continue Reading
WebMD points out that ointments and creams that contain hydrocortisone are effective at stopping the inflammation and itching that accompany eczema. While hydrocortisone is available in an over-the-counter strength, prescription-strength steroids may be needed if skin has become scaly or thick due to eczema. Steroids can have some side effects, including stretch marks and thinning skin, though these are rare if the medication is used according to directions. Systemic corticosteroids, given in the form of a pill or shot, are only used for a short time with extremely severe eczema.
Topical calcineurin inhibitors, also known as topical immunomodulators, also work by reducing inflammation, as WebMD explains. Two prescription medications of this type are available: pimecrolimus, sold under the brand name Elidel, and tacrolimus, sold under the brand name Protopic. While neither medication has the potential side effects of hydrocortisone or other steroid-based creams, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expressed concerns that use of these medications may increase the user's risk of contracting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or skin cancer. The FDA has issued a black box warning for both drugs as a result.Learn more about Skin Conditions