5. The next step is tapering down corticosteroid use to once a day or every other day. The goal is an application of midstrength steroids no more than twice a week. Patients should also liberally use moisturizers on days when they do not apply the steroid.
If eczema outbreaks persist, the doctor may prescribe an additional maintenance drug like Elidel or Protopic (applied three to five times a week), or ultraviolet light therapy.
Although many patients and doctors fear steroids because of their notorious side effects, like weaker bones, thinner skin and cataracts , midstrength topical corticosteroids are generally safe to use on a limited basis — daily for three to four weeks, or twice a week for the long term.
Cortisone injections, on the other hand, deliver a much more potent dose of steroids and carry a greater risk of adverse effects, although they can significantly relieve eczema flare-ups.
“I wouldn’t use them at all,” Dr. Hanifin said.