Eczema (atopic dermatitis): Fact vs. Myth

Fact vs. Myth

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The only medications for treating eczema are topicals (things you apply to the skin).

Not all medications used to treat eczema have been authorized for sale by Health Canada for this purpose.

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This is a myth.

This is a fact.

Here’s the fact: Eczema, a term often used interchangeably with atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that causes dry, itchy, scaly skin. Some people – especially those with mild-to-moderate eczema – can achieve control of their condition using topical medications such as corticosteroids (commonly called steroids) or other medicated creams and ointments. However, those with more persistent symptoms may need other treatments, such as ones taken by mouth or injection.

If you are still experiencing itchiness, pain, or other symptoms, see your doctor or dermatologist to discuss all available options, including any new ones that they may feel are right for you. Learn more about prescription options for eczema here.

Although medications like cyclosporine, methotrexate, and azathioprine are sometimes used to treat eczema, they have not been authorized for sale by Health Canada for this purpose. They are oral or injected medications that are sometimes tried when treatments such as topical medications do not provide the eczema control patients need. In order for a medication to be authorized for sale it has to go through a drug review process by Health Canada to assess the safety, efficacy (or effectiveness), and quality of the drug. This means that these medications have gone through this review process for other uses, but not for eczema.

However, there are oral and injected medications available that have been authorized for sale by Health Canada specifically for eczema. Learn more about these prescription medications here.