ATOPIC DERMATITIS

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Last Updated : 1/5/2011
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Ira Shah
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What is Atopic Dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis is a dry skin disorder due to hypersensitivity and leads to excessive itching. It is common in children but can occur at any age.

What is the cause of Atopic Dermatitis?
The exact cause is not known. It is seen in patients with allergic tendencies and may often be hereditary. Patients may have other hypersensitivity disorders such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, or hay fever.

How does atopic dermatitis present?
Atopic dermatitis is a recurrent condition and certain factors such as hot environment, cold places, emotional upset, food allergy, house dust etc may trigger it. Patients develop a skin rash, which is initially red and wet and later becomes dry, thickened and scaly leading to itching. Scratching the rash often aggravates it. Ultimately the skin becomes thickened and darker. Certain areas of the body are predominantly affected such as elbows, knees and back of the neck.

Which are the common food items that can cause atopic dermatitis?
The common food items that can cause allergies are milk, egg white, peanuts, soy, wheat and sea food

What is the treatment of atopic dermatitis?
Treatment consists of prevention of triggering factors, treatment of dry skin and superadded bacterial infections.

* Allergy testing in the form of blood test (RAST-Radioallergosorbent test) and skin prick tests may aid in finding the agent that is precipitating the allergy. Accordingly, precipitating food item, dust & dust forming objects (feather pillows, comforters, carpets, wool, stuffed toys) should be avoided.
* Moisturizers may be used to treat the dry skin. They heal the broken skin and prevent itching. Non-drying soap can be used for bathing. Chlorine water irritates the skin and should be avoided.
* In severe eczema, corticosteroid creams may be prescribed by your doctor. They should not be used in excess or else the skin starts becoming thin. If itching is too severe oral antihistamines may be prescribed.
* For severe eczema, wet dressings may be useful.
* For superadded bacterial infections, antibiotics may be needed.

Is atopic dermatitis a life long condition?
Most of the children (almost 90%) outgrow the disease by early adolescent period. Some of them may continue to have problems as adults.



Contributor Information and Disclosures Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai, India


First Created : 1/17/2001
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