Hydrocortisone creams are used on the skin to help with swelling, itching, and irritation.  Hydrocortisone creams, ointments, and lotions contain a type of medicine known as a corticosteroid or ‘steroid’—these creams are used for dealing with skin rashes.

Eczema is a frustrating chronic skin condition that leaves people with dry, red and itchy skin. Some people get flares a few times a year, while others need to deal with it every day. It’s essential to have a plan in place that will help in soothing the itching and irritated skin.

And yes, Eczema can be helped by using hydrocortisone cream.

The route to soothing Eczema-prone skin

The skin barrier is impaired in Eczema. This allows excess moisture to escape from the skin and allows skin irritants from the environment or from commonly used cosmetics to stimulate the body’s immune system to make an inflammatory reaction which comes across as red, scaly, flaky skin that itches.

People with Eczema have dry skin. Their skin does not retain moisture naturally, and this needs to be replaced with substances that replenish moisture and do not further irritate the skin.

When bathing one should avoid products (shampoo, body wash, soaps) with scent and color. A great number of liquid body washes contain excessively drying lathering ingredients called surfactants which contain sulfates. These can be avoided. Look for “sulfate free” on the label. This means that less drying surfactants were used.

Right after bathing one should use a moisturizing cream to lock in the moisture your skin has drawn in during the bath or shower. The hydrating cream you choose should avoid ingredients that are known to irritate the skin. So, avoid preservatives like parabens, and avoid scent and color in your creams. As pleasant as those smells may be they are not good for eczema prone skin.

When to use a hydrocortisone cream?

You should definitely consult a physician, but before suggesting the use of a hydrocortisone cream, most doctors will first verify you are using an appropriate skin regimen which consists of:

-using a skin cleanser without scent and color

-make sure you are using an irritant free moisturizing cream at least twice a day.

-many docs, for good reason, will also make sure you use a detergent without scent and color

-many physicians will also advise against using fabric softeners

If doing all of items mentioned in the previous paragraph, and skin is still dry, this is when steroid creams start to get suggested. Steroid creams are extremely beneficial, and a staple of eczema management, but they need to be used appropriately.

The most commonly found over the counter (OTC) steroid cream in the United States is hydrocortisone 1% cream. There are many many brands and generic makers of this product.

Management of eczema may start with OTC hydrocortisone cream or ointment or your physician commonly may determine it is necessary to start with a slightly stronger or much stronger prescription steroid cream.

When to Apply?

The hydrocortisone creams are usually applied twice a day. Most physicians will suggest you continue using a thick emollient like a moisturizing cream or pure petroleum jelly in conjunction with the topical steroid product. Again follow your doctor’s advice.

How to Apply?

-I usually suggest applying a good eczema cream all over the body first. I believe this makes applying the steroid cream a bit easier.

-Squeeze out the right length of steroid cream or ointment against your finger.

-Spread it in a thin layer over the affected area until it has saturated into the skin.

-Apply the cream/ointment to all areas of skin with Eczema. Do not apply it to skin that is not affected.

What are the possible side effects?

Your child is unlikely to get side effects with hydrocortisone cream or ointment if you use it as directed by your physician. But still, you should watch out for the following side effects:

-The skin of your child may appear redder when you begin applying the cream/ointment for the first time.

-Some individuals, when they put the cream on their face, get a burning or stinging sensation for a few minutes. After you have been using the cream for a few days, this stops happening.

-If the cream/ointment is used for a prolonged period of time, with no breaks in usage, there is a risk of permanently thinning and lightening the skin. Your doctor will advise you how to use the steroid to avoid this complication.

Happy Cappy and Eczema

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