The symptoms drive you to distraction. Eczema or atopic dermatitis can cause itchy red skin. The rash can show up on hands, wrists, arms, legs, face, neck or scalp. The itching can be especially awful at night. A dermatologist friend once referred to eczema or atopic dermatitis as “the itch that scratches.” By that he meant that the itch leads to scratching that leads to more itching. This vicious cycle can be hard to manage. This reader shares the challenge:

Just Call Me Job:

Q. I had a very bad case of atopic dermatitis when I was in my teens. It cleared up after that until recently. Now it’s back with a vengeance.

I told my dermatologist to call me Job like the afflicted man in the Bible. She said there is a condition called Job syndrome but I wasn’t that bad yet.

Nothing she has prescribed has provided much relief, including clindamycin and Halog cream. Can you suggest anything else?

A. Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a serious allergic skin condition. It can be extremely uncomfortable, and scratching may expose the skin to infection. That may be why your doctor prescribed the antibiotic clindamycin. Halog is a strong cortisone-type cream.

Job Syndrome is a Real Condition:

For those who may have forgotten their Bible story about Job in the land of Uz, here is the synopsis:

Job was known as a very good guy. He lived an upright life and avoided misdeeds. He was quite wealthy and had a wonderful family. But his life became challenged. His animals were attacked. His children were killed and his life was turned upside down. Finally, Satan caused his skin to develop boils from head to toe. We won’t reveal how the story ends, but suffice it to say that Job suffered mightily for quite awhile.

Job syndrome was first identified in 1966. It is a very unusual immune disorder that is manifested by severe skin rashes and abscesses. Another name for this condition is Hyperimmunoglobulin E syndrome (HIES). It often requires long-term antibiotic treatment to prevent serious staph infections of the skin. It is indeed a trial.

What to Do for Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis?

Your doctor might prescribe a medication to calm your overactive immune reaction in your skin. Two topical immune-suppressing drugs have been used for years: tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel). Common side effects include temporary itching and burning. Other reactions include headache, upper respiratory tract infection, swollen glands and viral skin infections (cold sores, shingles or warts).

The Newest Drug Treatments:

Two newer options are crisaborole (Eucrisa) and dupilumab (Dupixent). Crisaborole is an ointment, while dupilumab is an injection.

Dupilumab is significantly more effective than placebo at calming symptoms of atopic dermatitis. However, it is pricey. It can also trigger troublesome eye symptoms such as conjunctivitis and keratitis (QuarterWatch, Dec. 2018).

For Less Severe Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis:

There are several home remedies that readers have suggested for eczema or atopic dermatitis. We have no way of assessing what would be best for any given individual since no one approach works for everyone.

We suspect that disturbances in the skin microbiome may be partially responsible for eczema. Doctors call this dysbiosis. It means that the microbial ecology of the skin has been disrupted.

Old-Fashioned Amber Listerine:

Listerine contains a variety of essential oils including eucalyptol, menthol and thymol. These ingredients have both antifungal and antibacterial activity. Perhaps dabbing a little Listerine with a cotton ball helps reestablish a better skin microbiota to help overcome eczema. Here is a link to the question: Will Listerine Soothe Your Itchy Eczema?

Will Listerine Soothe Your Itchy Eczema?

Noczema for Eczema:

For decades Noczema was considered one of the best skin creams on the market. There were even suggestions that the name Noczema was derived from the phrase “knocking eczema.” Folklore has it that “no eczema” became Noczema.

Noxzema contains some of the same ingredients found in Listerine: eucalyptus and menthol. There is also camphor, which helps control itching through special sensory neurons in the skin. Here are some links to stories from readers:

Noxzema Relieved Eczema

Noxzema Stopped Nose from Itching Uncontrollably

Coconut Oil for Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis?

This remedy seems very greasy to us, but there is some science to support this approach.

One reader says it worked wonders for intractable eczema.

Try Coconut Oil on the Skin to Relieve Itchy Eczema

Try Coconut Oil on the Skin to Relieve Itchy Eczema

Marijuana Marijuana AND Coconut Oil?

We heard from Fred in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He shared this intriguing story:

“I’ve had eczema for my entire life, and I’m 63. Two years ago I received a medical cannabis (marijuana) card. I mixed up a combination of 60 ozs. of food grade coconut oil and 3 ozs. high grade marijuana.

“I brought oil to a liquid using a double boiler and added marijuana to liquid oil. I slow cooked oil for 2 hours. I then strained oil from marijuana using a strainer. I then poured oil in mason jars. Everyday I put this oil on dry skin including scalp after I showered.

“There’s only one word to describe the effect RELIEF.”

Share your own eczema or atopic dermatitis story in the comment section below.

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  1. Mark
    Melbourne, Fl.

    I have had eczema outbreaks off and on for about 30 years (I’m a 67 year-old man). It wasn’t too bad at first but got much worse about 6-7 years ago but I controlled it through expensive prescription creams.

    About two years ago I started using aloe vera in liquid and gel form, and within a couple months, I had no active areas left. It took several applications of the gel to sooth the intense itching when I first started using it so I was doing nothing different from the expensive creams except saving a boatload of money and using a natural remedy. I drink around 4 oz every morning with my breakfast and keep the gel handy for any new outbreaks, which have gotten more infrequent over time. A 16 oz pump bottle of my favorite brand runs about $3.50 at my big chain pharmacy, and the 1 gal jug of their aloe vera juice (about a month supply) is about $6.50. At these prices I can afford to apply the gel as liberally as needed for the now rare outbreak.

    Before starting with the aloe vera I went a few years without being able to completely rid myself of active areas but it’s now been almost two years with only a few limited outbreaks which disappeared within a few days with use of the gel so I am 100% sold on aloe vera. They also now offer a wild berry flavor so it’s not the bitter tasting aloe juice I first started with.

    I don’t use any other remedies either internally or externally and no special diets.

  2. Bernadette

    How do you ask questions & get answers?

    • Terry Graedon

      We answer questions in comments when we have answers. We don’t always know the answers.

  3. Mike

    as a machinist I broke out with lesion on hands 20 years a go, tried all popular topographical potions with no satisfactions. Figure it was coming from with in I started taking Turmeric capsules, not tablets, twice a day with slow results. after a month or two hands were completely
    free of painful lesions. still take one capsule a day

  4. Simone

    I was totally relieved from atopic dermatitis only with a visit to an homeopathic doctor. The homeopathic remedies worked in a few days.

  5. Frank

    Tea tree shampoo worked for me.

  6. Harry S

    Does anyone have any suggestions on what to use for Pityriasis Lichenosis Chronica? I was prescribed steriod creams which I was using for approx 2 years. Now it appears to not work because I have severe breakouts all over my legs.!! Help!!!!

  7. John
    Seattle, WA

    I had a bout of Eczema last year. I never had it before. Went the dermatologist, tried all kinds of lotions and creams to no affect. Then I remembered how my dear old Daddio would always turn to Edgar Cayce when all else failed. I consulted a reading that Cayce did for someone with severe Eczema. He described the cause as a disruption of the gut lining that manifests itself with eruptions on the surface of the skin. This made absolute sense to me.

    I have an auto-immune condition. From the research I’ve done, gut health, or lack there of, plays a big role in AI conditions. Anyway, Cayce recommends making a tea with American Saffron (not the fancy expensive Spanish stuff) and Slippery Elm and drinking it once or twice a day and avoiding all foods in the night shade family (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, chilis). I also avoided alcohol, sugar, gluten and anything else known to damage the endothelial lining of the gut. Worked like a charm. Itching stopped almost immediately and my skin began to heal.

  8. John Colin

    These solutions manufactured with hydrocortisone steroid drugs can rapidly minimize anxious and reduce swelling. They come in different skills, from mild ‘over-the-counter (OTC)’ cures to better prescribed drugs. OTC hydrocortisone is frequently the first thing doctors suggest to cure mild eczema.

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