Flare control creams

This information is important for everyone with eczema. Even if you’ve been looking after your eczema for a while, you may find some new, helpful tips.

This section will look at;

  • What are flare control creams?
  • Are flare control creams safe?
  • When do I need to use flare control creams?
  • How do I use flare control creams?
  • Golden Rules for using flare control creams

Find out more about flare control creams and how to use them.

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I didn't think I would learn anything new as I've been dealing with my eczema for years but I found out some things I didn't know.


What are flare control creams?

Flare control creams are used to get control of eczema flare-ups. They contain medicines to make the skin less sore and itchy. This helps the skin heal. Most people with eczema will need to use flare control creams at some point. 

What types of flare control creams are there?

These creams are usually topical corticosteroids (often called steroid creams). Sometimes people are prescribed other flare control creams. We mention these later in ‘other treatments’.

What are steroid creams?

Steroid creams are the most common type of flare control creams

Are steroid creams safe?

Yes. When steroid creams are used correctly they are very safe. They will help you to quickly get control of your eczema.

Common questions about flare control creams (usually steroids)

Although they are safe to use, we know that people with eczema sometimes worry about the side-effects of steroid creams. Here are some common questions that people with eczema have about steroid creams. Click the questions you want to find out more about.

When to use flare control creams

If you are not sure about whether you need flare control creams, or if you have never been prescribed these before but think you need them, then speak to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about this.

How long should I use flare control creams for?

It is important that you use flare control creams as prescribed. For most people, this will be:

How much flare control cream should I use?

Many people are not sure about how much flare control cream to put on. As a rough guide, apply generously or enough to cover the eczema flare area.

Using too much

Sometimes people use more flare control cream to try to make eczema go away quicker. Studies show that using flare control creams once a day when you need them is just as effective as more often.

Using too little

Some people use too little flare control cream. This is not better for your skin and the creams will not work well like this. It may mean you need to use more in the long-run.

What is the best way to put on flare control creams?

It is a good idea to wash your hands – they may have bacteria on them that could make your flare-up worse or get infected.

Use downward strokes, in the same direction that the hair is growing. Do not rub it in, as rubbing can make you feel itchy.
Put a generous layer of cream on the areas that have flared-up.
It is safe to put steroid creams on broken skin. This may sting at first, but this will stop as the skin heals.

Wash the cream off your hands when you have finished, unless you have hand eczema. This is because flare control cream should only be used on the areas that need it.

Should I keep using moisturising creams (emollients)?

Yes. You will need to carry on using moisturising creams (emollients) every day to keep control of your eczema. This will help soothe the skin and prevent other flare-ups. Click the boxes for answers to some common questions about using moisturising creams and flare control creams together.

Types and strengths of flare control cream

There are different types and strengths of flare control cream. It can feel frustrating when eczema isn’t getting better even when you are using the treatments as you’ve been told to. This section looks at how you can find a flare control cream that is right for you. This will usually be a steroid cream. Click the topics you want to find out more about.

Golden rules of using flare control creams

To Get Control

Flare control creams (usually steroid creams)

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What are they for?

These creams are used to get control of eczema. They are:

•    Used to treat sore and itchy skin

•    Normally prescribed and are usually steroid creams (topical corticosteroids).

Sometimes they are other prescribed medication creams.

Most people with eczema will need to use flare control creams at some point.

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Use them as soon as there is a flare-up.

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How often?

During a flare-up, apply a generous layer once a day until the eczema is under control. Your doctor will tell you if you need to do this more often.

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How much to apply?

As a rough guide, generously or enough to cover the eczema flare area.

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How long for?

Use them until the skin feels smooth and itch free and the eczema is under control.Speak to your doctor or nurse if you are moisturising daily and using the flare control cream as directed and there is still no improvement after 2-4 weeks.

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Are they safe?

Yes. Studies show that flare control creams are safe when used following the instructions above. They should be applied to the affected skin only.