What is Eczema?

Eczema is a common condition which often develops in childhood, and can continue throughout adult life. It typically starts as a rash, which may be red or pink in colour and may be scaly. Patients can experience itch associated with the rash, which may occur in the daytime or at night.

More information about eczema can be found here:


Eczema may affect specific parts of the body, such as the hands. Advice regarding hand eczema and how to look after your hands can be found here:



A wide range of treatments are available for eczema, many of which will be available from your GP. When you are starting on the PIFU pathway, you will be given a plan for treatment to use when your skin is flaring and causing difficulty (which is called a flare regime) and to use when your skin is well-controlled (which is called a maintenance regime). More information can be found below to help you to manage your skin at home (see section – general advice for managing your skin).

  • General Advice for Managing Your Skin 

    If you have eczema or psoriasis, it is very important to find a moisturiser that you like to use, and make a commitment to using it every day. This will help to strengthen the natural barrier that your skin provides to the outside world. Moisturisers are also known as ‘emollients’ and are available in many different forms, such as gels, creams, ointments and lotions. The right moisturiser for you is often found by trying different types and products until you find something you find helpful.

    It is important to note that some moisturisers can be flammable and therefore pose a fire risk, especially if moisturiser soaks into your clothing after application. It is important to check the packaging of your moisturiser and avoid any exposure to naked flames (such as candles) or smoking cigarettes after you have applied moisturiser.

    Moisturisers can be used to:

    • Relieve symptoms of itch and discomfort
    • Reduce skin dryness
    • Reduce skin scaling and crusting
    • Improve your skin’s natural barrier
    • Reduce the risk of flare-ups of your condition

    Leaflet: what are moisturisers and emollients? (Source: Dermnet.nz)


    Leaflet: using a moisturiser (or ‘emollient’) in skin conditions


    Leaflet: how to care for your hands


  • Understanding Steroid Creams and Ointments

    Steroids for application onto the skin is usually found in either a cream or an ointment form.


    The strength of steroid cream or ointment will be either ‘super potent’ (very strong), ‘potent’ (strong), ‘moderately potent’ (medium strength) or ‘mildly potent’ (weak).


    The size of the tube of steroid cream or ointment is usually either 30 gram size or 100 gram size.


    It is important to become familiar with how to apply steroid to your skin and how to select the right steroid to treat your skin. If you need to use steroid creams or ointments, your Dermatologist should have given a guide for you on which treatment to select when you have a flare or when you need to maintain good control of your skin.


    A guide to understanding different strengths of steroid cream is found here:


    Greater Manchester Medicines Management Group

  • Managing Skin Infections

    Skin conditions such as eczema can develop areas of infection over the skin surface. Infection of the skin may appear as broken and/or painful areas of rash or crusting.  If you are concerned about possible infection of your skin, it important to get in touch with a medical professional such as your GP or Dermatologist as soon as possible for assessment.

    Eczema herpeticum is a type of viral infection of the skin which may occur at any age. If you have eczema herpeticum, you may notice painful broken areas of skin or small blisters over the skin.

    Take a look at the picture below of what eczema herpeticum might look like:


    Source: Dermnet.nz

    More information on eczema herpeticum can be found here:


    Impetigo is a type of skin infection caused by bacteria. It is common in children but may occur at any age. You may be more likely to develop infection of the skin if your skin is scratched or broken. Impetigo may be itchy or painful and is often crusted. There may be fluid or ooze on the skin, and it may feel wet to touch. The crust on your skin might be honey-coloured or yellow in colour.

    Take a look at the picture below of what impetigo might look like:


    Source: Dermnet.nz

    More information on impetigo can be found here:


  • Other Treatments for Eczema

    Topical calcineurin inhibitors can be used in eczema for specific sites, such as the face. These will be discussed with you during your Dermatology appointment if they are felt to be suitable. More information on this can be found here:



    If your eczema flare-up is severe, your GP or Dermatologist may advise a course of oral corticosteroids to help with this.

    More information on oral corticosteroids can be found here:



    If your eczema flare is causing your skin to be moist or wet, your GP or Dermatologist may advise using potassium permanganate soaks to help to improve this.


    More information on potassium permanganate soaks can be found here:



    Patient support groups for patients with eczema can be found at:

    National Eczema Society https://eczema.org


    Eczema Outreach Support

    Bryerton House

    129 High Street

    Linlithgow EH49 7EJ
    Web: https://eos.org.uk/

    Tel: 01506 840395


    National Eczema Society

    11 Murray Street

    London NW1 9RE

    Web: www.eczema.org

    Tel: 0800 448 0818

    Weblinks to other relevant resources:

    NICE Guidance on atopic eczema