Patients with severe eczema or an acute flare-up of eczema symptoms may be given oral medications for eczema. These can include corticosteroids such as prednisone to reduce the inflammation and relieve the itchiness and pain.
Long-term oral corticosteroid use is not recommended however, except for life-threatening conditions. As such, the amount of oral corticosteroids prescribed will be restricted for most people with eczema. There are significant side-effects with oral corticosteroid use, including some which are potentially dangerous as well as being unpleasant.
Some patients are recommended to have immunotherapy involving allergy shots to try to manage their symptoms, and others might be given oral immunosuppressants to lower the severity of inflammation and histamine reaction to any eczema allergens encountered.
Such immunosuppressants include cyclosporine, mycophenolate mofetil, and methotrexate which may also be used for psoriatic arthritis. The side-effects from such medications can be relatively minor or extremely severe and patients should ensure that they follow the instructions for such medications carefully and report any novel symptoms should they arise. Some side-effects of cyclosporine include:
- increased hair growth
- runny nose
- stomach discomfort
Other side-effects of cyclosporine are more severe and need investigating immediately by a qualified doctor. These include:
- Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue)
- black, tarry stools
- blood in the urine
- change in the appearance of a mole
- chest pain
- dark urine
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- flushing of the face, chest, back, or abdomen
- gum disease or overgrowth
- increased or decreased urination
- loss of coordination
- mental or mood changes
- muscle cramps
- numbness or tingling of the skin
- severe or persistent headache or dizziness
- shortness of breath
- symptoms of infection (eg, chills, cough, fever, painful urination, sore throat)
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual lumps
- unusual thickening or growth on the skin
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- vision changes
- yellowing of the skin or eyes.
Many patients will choose to try to manage their skin condition naturally given the potential adverse effects of many pharmaceutical medications. For other patients however it may simply be a necessity to use such immunosuppressant drugs to alleviate severe eczema symptoms.