Atopic Dermatitis or Atopic Eczema

Understanding Atopic Dermatitis

One of the most common chronic forms of skin disorders is atopic dermatitis. This condition is characterized by itchy and scaly rashes, along with obvious swelling and inflammation. According to medical experts, atopic eczema condition is typically brought about by a marked deficiency of certain types of proteins, which can lead to the hypersensitivity of the skin.

Atopic eczema is commonly found among infants. However, most people are able to outgrow this condition upon reaching the early adulthood stage. Many atopic dermatitis patients, who often suffer from asthma or any other type of seasonal allergies, are also known to have a genetic history of asthma, allergy, hay fever and/or other types of eczema.

It is important to note that unlike common forms of allergies, allergens do not trigger atopic dermatitis, although patients with this condition are often tested positive in allergy tests.

Included in this post are also a few atopic eczema pictures which you can refer to.

Common Causes of Atopic Eczema

  • Cold, dry air of winter
  • Stress
  • Dry skin
  • Sudden changes in temperature
  • Exposure to excessive amount water, e.g. long baths or too much swimming
  • Fragrances or dyes found in soaps and lotions
  • Contact with materials such as wool
  • Contact with irritants and/or chemicals
  • Allergies to pollen, mold or dust mites
  • Colds and flu
Atopic Eczema On Chin
Atopic eczema on a child's chin

Atopic Dermatitis Symptoms

While symptoms from one person to another slightly vary, among the most common signs of atopic dermatitis include the red and inflamed skin, itchiness on the affected areas, blisters that crust over after several days, and dry skin affecting the entire body. Most patients can also observe the growth of raised and painful bumps on skin on the undersides of the arms as well as front areas of the thighs as well as the observable thickening of the patient’s skin on the affected areas.

For infants affected by atopic dermatitis, lesions are known to typically appear on the scalp, face, and feet, which are often found oozing and may appear as crusted and itchy rashes. Among adults, atopic eczema symptoms usually manifest on the inside areas of the knees, neck, elbows, hands as well as the feet. However severe outbreaks may also occur in certain parts of the body.

Atopic Dermatitis Hands
Atopic eczema on the hands


Atopic Dermatitis Treatment

The key approach to effectively reducing the use of medication in the treatment of atopic eczema is to take good care of the skin.

It is very important to avoid rubbing and scratching the rashes or the affected area to relieve severe itching. To soothe skin, use moisturizers or any prescribed treatment creams, antihistamines and topical steroids.

The use of ointments like petroleum jelly, lotions and creams keeps the skin moist are highly recommended, which should be applied at least 2 to 3 times per day. In order to prevent further aggravation and irritation of the skin, make sure to only use moisturisers that are free from alcohol, dye and fragrance. If atopic eczema is accompanied by hay fever or asthma, you may use humidifier designed for home use.

For children, it is important to make sure the nails are regularly trimmed and cut short. You may also want to consider putting on a pair of light cotton gloves on both hands, especially if night time scratching is a problem. For patients with atopic dermatitis, it is generally prohibited to use and exposure to excessively strong soaps, cleaners, solvents, detergents along with other known irritants such as lanolin or wool and chemicals that may trigger further aggravation of allergy symptoms.

During regular bathing, it is generally best to keep the baths cool and short using gentle soaps or body wash. Affected parts of the skin should not be scrubbed hard or far too long, as it can potentially result to further aggravation of the skin condition. To maintain a well-lubricated skin after every bath, apply lotions or ointments while skin is still slightly damp in order to effectively seal in moisture.

If the condition is severe enough to warrant the use of medications, antihistamines are taken orally in order to reduce itching and swelling. However, such types of medications can possibly cause drowsiness, although there are newer brands of antihistamines that are specifically designed to offer no-drowse treatment. Among the most popular OTC antihistamines include Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec.

Atopic dermatitis is treated by the application of topical medications. Mild cortisones or steroids in that are made available in cream forms or ointment forms are prescribed, however, if these do not work, stronger steroids can be administered.  Most times, varying strengths levels of steroids are prescribed for the different affected portions of skin. For thickened areas, creams containing coal tar  may be used. Topical immunomodulators or TIMs are sometimes prescribed for patients over the age of two but contain Protopic and Elidel but there are concerns about possible increased risks of cancer.

For highly severe cases of atopic eczema, antibiotic pills or creams are often prescribed to be applied on the affected parts of the skin. There are also certain medications that are specifically formulated to effectively suppress or curb the immune system hypersensitive reaction such as methotrexate and cyclosporine, which counteract the allergic reactions of the skin. In certain cases, phototherapy may also be used to treat the affected area with UV light.

Atopic Eczema Feet
Atopic eczema on the feet

Possible Complications With Atopic Eczema

Atopic dermatitis can become more difficult to control when it starts at a very early age. This condition can be further complicated with the presence of asthma and allergic rhinitis or if the patient has a history of eczema or if it affects a large area of the body surface. Treatment becomes even more complicated if infections of the skin caused by bacteria or fungi will set in.

A medical specialist should be seen if the atopic dermatitis no longer responds to regular application of moisturizer or the general avoidance of known allergens. Professional treatment should also be sought if the symptoms worsen over time or if the prescribed treatment does not work or symptoms of possible infection like fever, pain or redness appear.


2 Responses to Atopic Dermatitis or Atopic Eczema

  1. Hi team I have suffered with severe Eczema all my life and over the last 3 years I had to use 15mgs of methotrexate as all other treaments had failed, the new drug is working but their are severe side effects with the drug, you need regular blood tests. My question is how long do have to take the drug, and when is it safe to come off the drug under medical guidance. kid rgards Kevin

    • Hi Kevin… I’m sorry to hear that you have been suffering from Eczema for so long. I can feel your pain.

      As with all Eczema treatment drugs and creams, there are serious side-effects unfortunately. As to how long you will need to stay on those drugs, it’s best you ask your doctor as I would be unqualified to answer that. But, your situation and what you describe is exactly why I have gone ahead to research and write my the comprehensive and definitive guide for Eczema treatment – the 14 Days Eczema Cure guide.

      Please have a look at it.

      I wish you the best.


Leave a reply