A common skin condition, atopic dermatitis frequently affects children and is less commonly adults. It presents as intensely itchy patches.  These patches can be widespread or limited to a few areas.  Scratching often leads to redness, swelling, cracking, “weeping” of clear fluid, crusting, and scaling of the skin.  Constant scratching can cause skin damage, infection, and sleep loss .The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown. In many patients, there is a family history of hay fever, asthma or atopic dermatitis itself.

When atopic dermatitis begins during infancy, it often is called infantile eczema.  In infants, itchy patches tend to develop on the scalp, forehead, and face, especially on the cheeks.  For some children, the condition completely resolves by age two. Atopic dermatitis also can be a lifelong condition.  Fortunately, for many it tends to become less severe with age.

What treatments are there for Atopic Dermatitis?

Unfortunately, there is no treatment that will always eliminate atopic dermatitis. The main objective in treating atopic dermatitis is to decrease the skin eruption and relieve the itching. There are a number of different forms of medication that are used for atopic dermatitis. Treating the skin may involve applying a corticosteroid or an immune-modifying medication, which can help reduce the inflammation and itch.  Sometimes other medication such as an antihistamine can be beneficial.  If the patient has an infection, which is common in patients with atopic dermatitis, an antibiotic will be prescribed.  Sometimes ultraviolet (UV) light therapy is recommend or possible systemic (oral) therapy in recalcitrant cases.