Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

What is atopic dermatitis (AD or Eczema)?

Atopic dermatitis (AD), also called eczema, is a hereditary and chronic skin disorder that mostly affects infants or very young children, and may last until the child reaches adolescence or adulthood. Eczema causes the skin to itch, turn red, and flake.

Parents with eczema are more likely to have children with eczema. However, the exact way it passes from parents to children is not known. Of children who have eczema, most will show signs of the condition in the first year of life, and 90 percent will show signs of eczema within the first 5 years.

Different "triggers factors" can make eczema worse. For example, the condition tends to flare up during times of stress, when the temperature is extremely high or low, when the person has a bacterial infection, or when the skin is irritated by fabrics (such as wool), or detergents.

What are the common locations and symptoms of eczema?

The location and distribution of eczema may change with age. In infants and young children, eczema is usually located on the face, outside of the elbows, and on the knees. In older children and adults, eczema tends to be on the hands and feet, the arms, and on the back of the knees. The following are the most common symptoms of eczema. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

Excessive rubbing and scratching can tear the skin and result in an infection. The symptoms of eczema may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is eczema diagnosed?

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is very common. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that, worldwide, at least 20 percent of infants and children experience symptoms of atopic dermatitis. In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for eczema may include the following:

Treatment for eczema

Specific treatment for eczema will be determined by your doctor based on:

There is no cure for eczema. The goals of treatment are to reduce itching and inflammation of the skin, moisturize the skin, and prevent infection.

Management of eczema symptoms

The following are suggestions for the management of eczema:

Your physician may also prescribe medications in severe cases. The following medications are most commonly used to treat eczema:

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