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Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. In fact, more than 18 million American adults have atopic dermatitis. It causes the skin to become extremely itchy and inflamed, which can cause redness, swelling, fluid-filled sores, and/or scaling. Atopic dermatitis typically begins in childhood but can occur at any age and may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever. While no cure has been found for atopic dermatitis, treatments and self-care measures can relieve itching and prevent new outbreaks.

Symptoms

Symptoms of atopic dermatitis vary from person to person, with the most common symptoms being dry, itchy, red skin around the folds of the arms, the back of the knees, wrists, face, and neck. Other symptoms include:

  • Scaly skin
  • A rash on the cheeks, arms and/or legs
  • Cracks behind the ears
  • Open, crusted sores (usually during flares)
  • Small, raised bumps
  • Raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching
  • Secondary skin infections

Causes

The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown, but the disease seems to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is evidence that people with atopic dermatitis have a compromised skin barrier compared to normal skin, which results in drier skin. This leads to the development of red, itchy rashes since the skin is more prone to water loss.

Treatment

Finding the right skin treatment is important to help reduce itching and discomfort. Treatment options vary from over-the-counter skin care, prescription medication, and lifestyle changes. If regular moisturizing and self-care steps fail, other treatment options include:

  • Creams that control itching and repair the skin
  • Drugs to fight infection
  • Biologics
  • Oral drugs to control inflammation
  • Wet dressings

 Many atopic dermatitis-related symptoms can be managed with over the counter medicines, prescription medications, and environmental avoidance strategies if the trigger is known. With allergy patch testing, skin testing and/or blood testing, we can discover hidden triggers, confirm suspected triggers, and provide additional treatments.

Contact Northeast Allergy, Asthma & Immunology today to schedule your appointment.

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