What is eczema?
Eczema is a condition that affects the skin. Its typical symptoms include a rough inflamed skin with fluid-filled blisters that are itchy. Eczema most often affects the areas of the neck, inner elbows, behind the knees, the wrists, ankles, and the creases between the buttocks. The exact cause of eczema is still unknown but a combination of environmental factors and genetics are suspected to be involved. Children whose parents have a history of eczema have a higher chance of developing the disorder. Most individuals will develop symptoms of eczema before the age of five and about half will continue to have the symptoms into adulthood.
More people are being diagnosed with eczema every day. The patients range from infants to adults. It has been established that there is currently no cure for the disorder, and most patients have come to accept this reality. However, many are still troubled when it comes to methods of treating the symptoms of eczema.
Eczema can be treated by a number of methods. First, you can get a prescription from the doctor, describing the type of drugs you should take and in what amounts. Secondly, you can opt for a natural treatment or alternative medicine that mostly uses herbs. Many patients who resorted to this method have reported getting poor results, especially for those who had the severe form of the disease.
The question here is whether eczema can be treated with over-the-counter medications. OTC medications are those that are simply purchased in a pharmacy without the need of a doctor’s prescription. Usually, such drugs treat the symptoms of the disease or cure the disease. While the use of these medications to treat eczema is possible and done by some patients, it can come with its own set of issues.
Diagnosis of the Disease
There are a set of signs and symptoms that can inform you on whether you are suffering from eczema or just a parody of the disease. However, it is still easy for you to mistake symptoms of another disease for those of eczema. The most common problem with misdiagnosing eczema is that the symptoms can vary from one individual to another. Your symptoms might be completely different from those of a friend or relative.
The symptoms also tend to vary during the different stages of life. The symptoms experienced during infancy will be different from those in childhood and later in adulthood. There are also several symptoms of eczema and you might experience all of them or just a few. For this reason, self-diagnosing eczema can be rather tricky and easily misdiagnosed.
At the moment, the only sure way to tell whether or not you have eczema is to consult a doctor. An experienced physician can conclusively tell whether you are suffering from eczema by examining your symptoms. In some cases where the diagnosis is not so clear, the physician might even refer you to a dermatologist or a specialist in treating allergies to get a second opinion. It is one of the reasons why you need to consult a doctor before starting off on your OTC treatment.
Drug Guidance and Information
Different people will need to take the drugs differently depending on the type of eczema they are suffering from, and the severity of their condition. This is another reason why you would ideally need a doctor’s prescription to treat eczema. In some cases, eczema might flare-up due to secondary factors such as stress or an allergic reaction. These factors could often be missed during self-diagnosis and one might mistakenly increase the dose of the eczema treatment to control the symptoms, when in fact, it is the secondary factors that need to be controlled.
Hormonal changes in women during a menstrual cycle or pregnancy can also cause eczema flare-ups. It would be highly unfavorable, especially in the case of the latter to increase any OTC medication without knowing what effects it might have in the long run.
Some OTC medications may react with the foods and drinks you take, or even with other drugs you may be using. If you have other medical conditions, you may also need further directions on how to use the medications.
Drugs Work Differently for Different People
Basically, taking drugs is a trial and error thing. With a doctor's help, it is easier to try different medications and finally arrive at one, which actually works perfectly for you.
There is also the possibility of an individual being allergic to a particular OTC drug and this might cause an increase in the symptoms of eczema or some other reactions altogether. Without appropriate medical attention, such situation could in some cases prove quite dangerous for the patient.
However, if you still opt for OTC medications, you need to stick to the recommended dosage. It is easy to fall into the belief that if you take more of a certain type of medicine, you will get better faster. This assumption is never the case and prescriptions need to be followed correctly. If your symptoms fail to go away, then you will know you are doing something wrong and need to pay a visit to the doctor. The main purpose of OTC medications for eczema is to control the itch, heal the skin, prevent flare-ups, and infections.
Other Options for the Treatment of Eczema
While over-the-counter medication might work for some people, it might not work for others, and in some cases, it might even have an adverse effect that could even be dangerous. Therefore, it is always better to consult with a doctor first before starting any type of OTC treatment.
One thing that should be considered before taking OTC medications is that most medications prescribed by doctors are based on several factors such as your age, medical history, any other medications you are on, and your overall health. If you are not able to properly determine all these factors by yourself, then it is probably not a very good idea to self-medicate.
Apart from over-the-counter medications, there are other options for treating eczema. As said earlier, you can choose to get prescription medication, or even opt for natural remedies. You can also control your eczema by staying away from the factors that may trigger flare-ups.