No case of eczema is a walk in the park, but this condition is considered severe once it starts having a negative impact on a patient’s life. The itching can get so intense that it leads to inflamed rashes, bleeding, and infections. This can make it hard to get quality sleep or focus at work.
Severe eczema can be prevented, and this often starts with taking a good hard look at your skin care regimen. “For some patients, eczema flares because they’re not following a great skin care routine,” says dermatologist Suzanne Friedler, MD, of Mount Sinai Hospital and St. John’s Episcopal Hospital.
Some patients will experience severe eczema despite following a great skin care routine and avoiding these common mistakes that make eczema symptoms worse.
These patients will need more potent treatment options. This might include medical treatments such as immunosuppressive drugs, biologics, or phototherapy.
Immunosuppressive drugs suppress or weaken the immune system, so the body is less likely to experience inflammation, which can break the itch-scratch cycle.
Biologic drugs target more specific parts of the immune system that trigger eczema symptoms, according to the National Eczema Association.
Phototherapy, also called light therapy, uses UVB light (yes, the same one given by the sun) to reduce inflammation, relieve itch, and increase vitamin D production, according to Dr. Friedler.
These can often effectively ease eczema symptoms but can come with a risk of serious side effects (and a hefty price tag). For example, light therapy carries the obvious risk of skin cancer for the patient. That’s why derms only recommend these options for the most severe cases of eczema.
Here’s more information about medical treatments for all types eczema, ranging from mild to the most severe.