The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.

The following medications may be recommended or prescribed by your doctor to treat atopic dermatitis, depending on location and severity of the rash. They are sometimes used in combination.

In particular, consult with your doctor before giving any medications to infants or younger children.

Prescription Medications

Topical corticosteroids , such as:

  • Triamcinolone
  • Hydrocortisone valerate
  • Clobetasol
  • Fluticasone propionate

Nonsteroidal immunomodulators

  • Topical pimecrolimus
  • Topical tacrolimus
  • Topical crisaborole
  • Oral cyclosporine
  • Oral azathioprine

Antibiotics

  • Cephadroxil
  • Dicloxacillin

Antihistamines

  • Hydroxyzine
  • Levocetirizine

Prescription Moisturizers

  • Atopiclair
  • Epicream

Prescription or Over-the-Counter Medications

Antihistamines

  • Diphenhydramine
  • Hydroxyzine
  • Clemastine
  • Cetirizine
  • Loratadine

Prescription Medications

Corticosteroids

There are many different corticosteroid ointments and creams available in a variety of strengths. In general, ointments are used for dry skin and creams for moist rashes or large areas. The following are among the most commonly used corticosteroids:

Common names include:

  • Triamcinolone
  • Hydrocortisone valerate
  • Prednisone (oral)
  • Clobetasol

Corticosteroids are a type of steroid medication used to help relieve swelling, itching, and redness of skin. They are usually used topically as creams or ointments, but can be used orally as pills or even by IV in extreme rare cases. Carefully follow directions for use, and do not use this medication for longer than prescribed.

Possible side effects include:

  • Thinning of the skin
  • Skin infections
  • Growth suppression in children—with long-term oral prednisone
  • Stretch marks on the skin
Nonsteroidal Topical Immunomodulators

Common names include:

  • Tacrolimus
  • Pimecrolimus
  • Topical crisaborole

These nonsteroidal topical medications are used for the short-term and intermittent or long-term treatment of mild to moderate eczema in patients age 2 and older. These topicals may be used on all parts of the body, including delicate areas such as the face, neck, and skin folds, where corticosteroids are usually not recommended long-term.

Possible side effects include temporary mild warmth, burning, or itching.

Antibiotics

If you develop a bacterial skin infection, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. These may be given orally, topically, or even by IV for severe infections requiring hospitalization. The type of drug and dosage will depend on your skin infection.

Prescription or Over-the-Counter Medications

Antihistamines

Common names include:

  • Hydroxyzine
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Clemastine

Your doctor may recommend a nonprescription antihistamine to help relieve itching. Since they cause drowsiness, they are especially useful at night.

Side effects include:

  • Drowsiness—Do not drive a car or operate heavy machinery until you know how these drugs affect you
  • Dry mouth, nose, or throat

Special Considerations

Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:

  • Take your medication as directed. Do not change the amount or schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medication.
  • Do not share your prescription medication.
  • Medications can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one medication, including over-the-counter products and supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills as needed.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods MD, FAAP
  • Review Date: 11/2018 -
  • Update Date: 12/20/2014 -