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Atopic Dermatitis (ECZEMA)

Atopic Dermatitis (ECZEMA) thumbnail

What is atopic dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis, sometimes called eczema, is a skin problem that causes dry skin, intense itching, and then a red, raised rash. It’s the most common type of eczema in babies and children. It cannot be spread from person to person.

Some children with atopic dermatitis outgrow it or have milder cases as they get older. Also, a person may get atopic dermatitis as an adult. But for most people, it’s a long-lasting (chronic) problem that starts in childhood and comes and goes throughout life.

What causes atopic dermatitis?

The cause of atopic dermatitis isn’t clear, but it affects your skin’s ability to hold moisture. Your skin becomes dry, itchy, and easily irritated.

Most people who have atopic dermatitis have a personal or family history of allergies, such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis) or asthma.

What are the symptoms?

Atopic dermatitis starts with dry skin that is often very itchy. Scratching causes the dry skin to become red and irritated (inflamed). Infection often occurs. Tiny bumps that look like little blisters may appear and ooze fluid or crust over. These symptoms—dryness, itching, scratching, and inflammation—may come and go. Over time, a recurring rash can lead to tough and thickened skin.

Mild atopic dermatitis affects a small area of skin and may be itchy once in a while. Moderate and severe atopic dermatitis cover larger areas of skin and are itchy more often. And at times the itch may be intense.

People tend to get the rash on certain parts of the body, depending on their age. Common sites for babies include the scalp and face, especially on the cheeks. In children, common areas include the neck, wrists, legs, ankles, the creases of elbows or knees, and between the buttocks. In adults, the rash often appears in the creases of the elbows or knees and on the nape of the neck.

How is atopic dermatitis diagnosed?

A doctor can usually tell if you have atopic dermatitis by doing a physical examination and asking questions about your past health.

Your doctor may advise allergy testing to find the things that trigger the rash. Allergy tests can be done by an allergist (immunologist) or dermatologist.

How is it treated?

Atopic dermatitis is usually treated with medicines that are put on your skin (topical medicines). Gentle skin care, including using plenty of moisturizer, is also important.

Getting medical treatment early may keep your symptoms from getting worse.

If the topical medicines don’t help, your doctor may prescribe other treatments, such as pills or phototherapy.


HOME TREATMENT

Home Treatment

Home treatment for atopic dermatitis includes taking care of your skin and avoiding things that irritate it.

Take care of your skin

  • Take showers or baths in warm (not hot) water. Pat skin dry with a soft towel and put moisturizer on your skin right away.

Atopic Dermatitis: Taking Care of Your Skin

  • Avoid things that irritate a rash or make it worse, such as soaps that dry the skin, perfumes, and scratchy clothing or bedding.
  • Avoid possible allergens that cause a rash or make a rash worse, such as dust mites, animal dander, and certain foods.

Control itching and scratching

  • Keep your fingernails trimmed and filed smooth to help prevent damaging the skin when you scratch it.
  • Use protective dressings to keep from rubbing the affected area. Put mittens or cotton socks on your baby’s hands to help prevent him or her from scratching the area.

Avoid sun and stress

  • Exposure to natural sunlight can be helpful for atopic dermatitis, but it is important to avoid sunburn. Too much sun, sweating, and/or getting too hot also can irritate the skin. When you use a sunscreen, choose one for sensitive skin.
  • Reduce stress to help your skin and keep rashes from getting worse. Try relaxation techniquesbehaviour modification, or biofeedbackMassage therapy is also helpful, especially in children.

For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call health Link at 811.

Source: www. myhealth.alberta.ca

Current as of: February 5, 2016

Translated with permission from Healthwise Inc.© and is not intended to replace the advice of care you get from your provider or other healthcare professional.  Always consult your health professional for medical diagnosis and treatment.









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