Atopic dermatitis, a common form of eczema, is a common skin condition and often described as "the itch that rashes." Intensely itchy patches and dry skin are the hallmarks of this condition. The creases (elbows, behind the knees, wrists and ankles) are commonly affected in older children and adults. Other symptoms include redness, swelling, cracking, oozing, scaling and bacterial skin infections are also common. 10-20% of children and 1-3% of adults are affected with most new cases developing before age 5 years.
Although food and environmental allergens do not directly cause atopic dermatitis, both food and environmental allergens can aggravate the skin of patients with this condition. Common foods implicated include milk, egg, and nuts while house dust mite allergen has been most commonly linked to atopic dermatitis. Avoiding these foods or measures to reduce allergen exposure can improve the extent and severity of skin lesions.
Treatment of atopic dermatitis involves 3 key areas: 1) aggressively moisturizing, 2) avoidance of allergens and irritants, and 3) use of topical anti-inflammatory agents to control rash and itching. Avoid wool and other rough fabrics and opt for loose fitting cotton clothes. Avoid bathing with soaps and use body washes for bathing. Use mild detergents and use an extra rinse cycle to help remove additional detergent when washing clothes.
Dr. Charles "Joey" Lane of Allergy Partners of Lynchburg