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Atopic Dermatitis / Eczema

What is atopic dermatitis / eczema?

Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, a term used to describe an itchy rash. When people come into contact with something they are allergic to (called an allergen), they may have symptoms, such as an itchy rash.

Atopic dermatitis is most common in infants, but also can develop in children and adults. People are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis if:

  • They have asthma, hay fever, or food allergies
  • They have a parent who had or has asthma, hay fever, food allergies, or atopic dermatitis.

What are the symptoms of atopic dermatitis or eczema?

The most common symptoms are a red, itchy rash and dry and easy to irritate skin. Scratching or rubbing can make the itching and rash worse and even cause the skin to blister and ooze a clear or light yellow fluid. When this happens, the rash can become infected.

How is atopic dermatitis diagnosed?

To diagnose atopic dermatitis, your allergist will look at your rash, ask about your symptoms, and ask about you and your parent’s history of asthma and allergies. Then your allergist will try to find out the cause of the rash by asking about your contact with things that may irritate your skin, such as soaps, detergents, skin care products, and wool clothing. If your allergist thinks an allergy may have caused your dermatitis, she may do allergy skin-testing to find out what you may be allergic to.

How is atopic dermatitis treated?

Atopic dermatitis cannot be cured but it can be controlled by staying away from things that make it worse, treating the symptoms with medicine, and taking good care of your skin.