Atopic Dermatitis: An Itchy Situation

Atopic dermatitis—one of the most common forms of eczema—is a chronic condition marked by itchy and inflamed skin. Some 15 million people in the United States suffer from the symptoms of atopic dermatitis. While many of these are infants and children, atopic dermatitis can persist into the adult years, especially in people who live in dry climates.

The exact causes of atopic dermatitis are unknown, but the disease is believed to stem from both hereditary and environmental factors. Atopic dermatitis is also associated with autoimmunity, where a person's body reacts with its own tissues.

Symptoms of atopic dermatitis vary, but the most common ones include dry, itchy skin, rashes on the face, inside the elbows and behind the knees, and on the hands and feet. Atopic dermatitis can also affect the skin around the eyes.

Atopic dermatitis can be treated with topical immuno-modulators, topical corticosteroids, or oral medications. Other measures, such as avoiding allergens and synthetic materials, can help calm symptoms.

Talking to Your Dermatologist About Atopic Dermatitis

Effective treatment of atopic dermatitis requires an ongoing partnership between physician, patient, and— especially in the case of younger patients—with the family, as well.

Make sure you provide your dermatologist with complete information about your own medical history and that of any other members of your family who may have or have had atopic dermatitis symptoms.

The patient's age, severity of symptoms, and lifestyle will all factor into the treatment regimen your doctor prescribes.