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WHAT IS ATOPIC DERMATITIS?
Atopic dermatitis is a rash that occurs in up to 20% of infants and 3% of the U.S. population as a whole. The rash presents usually as an itching dermatitis that can lead to intense burning and discomfort. With time, atopic dermatitis improves. However, approximately 60% of those who develop the disorder in childhood have some degree of eczema that occurs throughout their lifetime. Many patients with atopic dermatitis can also suffer from hay fever, asthma, and sinusitis.
WHAT AGGRAVATES ATOPIC DERMATITIS?
Direct manipulation of affected areas can promote secondary infection and aggravate the condition. It is important to avoid placing irritating substances on the skin, such as alcohol, propylene glycol, or lanolin based products. These agents can intensify the rash. The use of emollients and topical corticosteroid creams along with reducing water temperature can be useful in treating the disorder.
HOW DOES ONE RECOGNIZE ATOPIC DERMATITIS?
When assessing atopic dermatitis it is important to determine whether or not one has a history of hay fever, pollen or dust allergies. The skin of those with atopic dermatitis is described as “dull or lusterless”. The rash often occurs behind the elbows or knees. In younger patients, dermatitis involves the scalp and the face. Patients often have increased line markings of the hands and crusting spots on the fingers.
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WHAT OTHER FACTORS CAN AGGRAVATE ATOPIC DERMATITIS?
Interestingly, there are certain food groups which can aggravate Atopic Dermatitis, especially in younger children. Food products containing milk, soy, eggs, fish, wheat or peanuts have been implicated. If one suspects a certain food intolerance, it is important to avoid such products for at least one to two weeks to see if the rash improves. Allergy testing is sometimes required.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS THAT SHOULD BE AVOIDED?
Pillows, down comforters and mattresses that contain feathers can often make symptoms worse. It is important to consider the materials that contact the skin when assessing atopic dermatitis. Patch testing is also sometimes helpful. This type of testing can help us determine if certain chemicals or agents are responsible for rash development.
ARE ALLERGY SHOTS HELPFUL IN THE TREATMENT OF ATOPIC DERMATITIS?
Not usually. In fact, they sometimes cause the dermatitis to become more intense.
WHAT OTHER TREATMENTS ARE HELPFUL?
Generally, the use of non fragranced moisturizes, gentle detergents and avoiding hot baths are first line treatments. It is always important to follow our sensitive skin care tips to optimize your skins health. For severe cases, oral corticosteroids, antihistamines, light treatments, and immunosuppressive drugs may be prescribed
Atopic dermatitis is a common skin rash that can be seen in up to twenty percent of the population. Dermatitis is manageable with moisturizers and corticosteroid creams. To set up an appointment, click here.
For more information and to learn about new medications, important ways to control your eczema and associated disorders, please visit www.nationaleczema.org.