Uncontrolled Itching

Dermatitis treatment varies, depending on the cause. Using corticosteroid creams, applying wet compresses and avoiding irritants are the cornerstones of most dermatitis treatment plans. To minimize side effects, such as thin skin, and to increase effectiveness, topical corticosteroids are generally used only short term until rashes are under control.

For some types of dermatitis, nonsteroidal medications may help relieve signs and symptoms. And for all types of dermatitis, occasional use of over-the-counter oral antihistamines can reduce itching.

Contact dermatitis

Treatment consists primarily of identifying the cause of the rash and then avoiding it.

Treatment options include:

  • Creams containing hydrocortisone
  • Other, stronger steroidal creams
  • Cool, wet compresses on the affected area


Getting you to stop scratching and to avoid further aggravating your skin are the treatment objectives.

Treatment options include:

  • Covering the affected area to prevent you from scratching it
  • Hydrocortisone and similar lotions and creams
  • Wet compresses
  • In some cases, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications

In addition, counseling can help you learn how your emotions and behaviors can fuel — or prevent — itching and scratching.

Seborrheic dermatitis

Medicated shampoos are usually the first treatment choice.

Treatment options include:

  • Warm mineral or olive oil to remove scales
  • Shampoos that contain tar, salicylic acid or ketoconazole as the active ingredient
  • Topical hydrocortisone creams and lotions

Stasis dermatitis

Treatment consists of correcting the condition that causes fluid to accumulate in your legs or ankles for extended periods.

Treatment options include:

  • Wearing elastic support hose
  • Having varicose vein surgery
  • Using wet dressings to soften the thickened yet fragile skin and to control infection

Atopic dermatitis

In addition to relieving redness and itching, treatments for this condition are aimed at healing infection-prone cracks in your skin.

Treatment options include:

  • Hydrocortisone-containing lotions
  • Wet dressings with mildly astringent properties
  • Immunosuppressant topical medications, such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel)

In addition, light therapy, which involves exposing your skin to controlled amounts of natural or artificial light, may be used to help prevent recurrences of atopic dermatitis.

Perioral dermatitis

In general, doctors try to avoid treating this condition with strong corticosteroids. When these potent medications are stopped, perioral dermatitis may return and even worsen.

Treatment options include:

  • The oral antibiotic tetracycline, sometimes taken for several months
  • A mild corticosteroid cream