Atopic dermatitis is a common skin disease that causes the skin to be itchy and scaly. It often occurs in infants and children, but can be seen in adults. It is also called eczema.
The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown. It tends to run in families, and is seen more frequently when patients or their family members have either asthma or seasonal allergies.
In infants, atopic dermatitis usually appears as a scaly, itchy rash that can ooze, and commonly affects the face, scalp, arms and legs. In children, atopic dermatitis usually appears as a scaly, itchy rash often in the crease of the elbows or behind the knees. Over time, the rash can become thicker or bumpier. Adults with atopic dermatitis may have thicker areas of very dry and itchy, scaly skin.
Treatment involves good skin care to help prevent the atopic dermatitis rash from worsening, preventing infections, and controlling symptoms of pain and itching. Therefore, treatment requires both medication and lifestyle changes. Skin care includes avoiding harsh soaps, fragrances and regular use of moisturizing creams or ointments. Medications may include steroid creams or ointments, antihistamine pills that help with itching, light therapy, and/or other topical and oral treatments that affect the immune system.