Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis

You or your child has just been diagnosed with eczema or Atopic Dermatitis and this can be overwhelming.  Just what is atopic dermatitis and how is it treated?  Atopic dermatitis is a condition of the skin that results from a defect in the normal skin barrier.  You can see it’s easy for allergens and toxic substances to penetrate the skin with this protective barrier gone.  

The itch scratch cycle

The first step in evaluation of eczema/dermatitis is to find out what triggers the condition–is it foods, allergens, irritants, or persistent scratching.  After a thorough history, skin testing can reveal many of the contributing factors. 

Unfortunately, atopic dermatitis in childhood may progress to hayfever and asthma later on in life.  We call this the “allergic march” and you’ll see from this video at National Jewish Center that allergies never completely go away, they just manifest in a different organ.  Beach ball effect, if you will!

The most difficult aspect of atopic dermatitis is persistence in treating the skin barrier.  Here’s what I recommend:

  • Bathing (not showering) hydrates the skin and makes it more difficult for allergens to penetrate.  Kids will love the 20 minute bath!
  • Do NOT rub the skin dry, but “PAT” dry to avoid trauma to the areas of eczema
  • Apply your cream while the skin is still wet.  This encourages hydration of the skin which is the most important aspect of eczema care.
  • How about using a bleach bath?  Yes you heard me….but don’t take it from me–watch this!

As always, I’m here to help you with allergic skin conditions–don’t hesitate to call.

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