Why Steroids & Topical Treatments Might Not Clear Your Eczema
Holistic Living

Why Steroids & Topical Treatments Might Not Clear Your Eczema


7 March 2018


The topic of eczema and specifically  atopic dermatitis is very close to my heart as I have been dealing with it my whole life.

Going through various treatments since young I chose to write a paper about the different “treatment methods” for atopic dermatitis for my A-Level exams to shift through the countless number of treatments out there.


The main goal of the pharma industry is to sell.

They give products to clients who promote it to people to make them buy it — growing up, this was difficult for me as it meant these products were never a solution to my eczema.

Reading my paper years later and reflecting my conclusion back then, I can now decide what’s best for me instead of following blindly an advert or recommendation. Now, I’ve realised that instead of relying on products that suppress the eczema, it’s about looking behind the scenes: really understanding what’s happening in your body and addressing that first… and from there taking the route that is the best for your unique self.

In my case, atopic dermatitis is a genetic skin disease that is strongly influenced through the environment and internal factors such as stress. It is basically an overreaction by the immune system in which the body responds to usually harmless ingredients in our daily life. As the genetic part can’t be influenced, we can only focus on that start the inflammatory process.

Common factors like your diet and toxins in your environment (also body care) are what you should focus on managing. Another well known factor today is the connection between “soul and skin” — a factor that only started to appear in research papers around the year 2000, and is now considered one of the strongest influences of outbreaks.


When it comes to skin care, hydration is key.

Use an ointment with less fat content for inflamed skin, and one with more fat content for non-inflamed skin. The lower the fat content, the higher is the “cooling” effect of an ointment. 

If the skin is dry and flakey, then a higher fat content is of benefit — of course all natural and without chemicals. When showering, use a little water with some natural, mild soap (but not on affected areas).

In the past besides applying oily ointments, crude coal tar products and taking sunbathes were the choice of treatments. This was taken over by steroids (cortisone) around the 60s.


Currently around the world, about 20% of children and up to 3% of the adult population have some form of eczema.

Steroids are (still) the go-to treatments for many, whether taken orally or topically. The issue is that cortisone only suppresses the overreaction of the immune system and therefore leads to a reduction of the inflammation — but it doesn’t cure the core of the disease and even loses its effect if used too long or too often. Even if only applied on the skin, cortisone is absorbed and leads to thinning of the skin, dilatation of blood vessels and many more other effects.

Since then other ointments have been developed that have less side effects compared to cortisone and still work as an immunosuppressant locally — but the issue remains the same: it’s just treating the effects, not the cause.


So which other choices do you have?

  1. There are alternative methods such as acupuncture, homeopathy etc.
  2. You can influence your body’s reaction through managing diet and emotional state

It is important to have a closer look at one’s diet and see what has a negative influence on oneself, and cut out those ingredients that are causing harm to the body. The second step is to look at the emotional well-being and see how we can become more balanced.

In my case, working on my emotional and physical state, together with a simple hydration of my skin is the success to my (now) eczema free life.