medical eczema

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

This is a common skin disease in children, but can also occur in adults. Children often get atopic dermatitis (AD) during their first year of life. If a child gets AD during this time, dry, scaly and pink/inflamed patches appear on the skin. These patches often appear on the arms, behind the knees, scalp, forehead, and face, but can appear anywhere on the body. AD is often itchy and infants may rub their skin against bedding or carpeting to relieve the itch. In children of all ages, the itch can be so intense that a child cannot sleep. Scratching can make the itching and rash worse, and can lead to a skin infection.

Because atopic dermatitis can be a long lasting skin problem (gets better and worse over months to years), it is important to learn how to take care of the skin in order to reduce flares. Treatment and good skin care can alleviate much of the discomfort.

Treatment options:
◦ Your dermatologist will ask questions and evaluate the rash.
◦ A general over-the-counter skin care regimen will be discussed and recommended.
◦ Prescription moisturizers.
◦ Topical prescription non-steroidal creams.
◦ Topical prescription steroid creams (only to be used for 2 weeks at a time unless other wise instructed by the prescribing physician.
◦ Oral anti-histamines.
◦ Prescription topical antibiotic ointment (ointments containing bacitracin or neomycin are not recommended due to the high risk of developing a skin allergy and worse rash).
◦ Prescription oral antibiotics (if infection is suspected).
◦ Sometimes patch testing will be recommended if a skin allergy is suspected; this test is used to find allergies. Some studies suggest that some chemicals can make AD worse.

What happens during patch testing? You keep the substances on your skin for a specific amount of time, usually 2 days.
◦ You return to your doctor’s office so that the doctor can check your skin for reactions and remove the stickers.
◦ You return 1-4 days later for another evaluation of the area to check for any delayed reactions.