MY DOCTOR DIAGNOSED ME WITH ATOPIC DERMATITIS: NOW WHAT?
You are reading this because you have recently been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis (eczema) or you are curious to learn more about it. Eczema is a common condition that causes dry, red, and itchy skin. Although eczema is most common in childhood, it can appear at any age. It is typically caused by genetics and a variety of environmental factors. Unfortunately there is no permanent cure but there are a vast amount of medications and over the counter topical therapies that can be used to control flare ups.
To better understand the diagnosis, here are some facts and tips:
- Shower once daily with warm water, not hot (recommendation: if you have a mirror in your bathroom, be sure it does not get foggy. If it does, the water is too hot).
- Pat dry after bathing and moisturize directly after bathing with a moisturizer of your choice while still in the bathroom. This will lock in moisture for optimal results (recommendation: CeraVe cream, Aveeno Eczema balm, Aquaphor, Eucerin).
- Watch for triggers. Many patients flare due to season change, scented soaps and lotions, or even detergents. The more you avoid these triggers, the less severe the flare.
- Avoid scratching as much as possible. Although the condition is itchy, it is important to note that the skin barrier gets damaged during flare ups. As our nails carry bacteria, it is easy to introduce them into our skin through the damaged skin barrier. Infections = bad news.
- You can use over the counter antihistamines in order to control the itch. Although this will not completely relieve the sensation, it will help reduce it.
- Atopic dermatitis is sometimes at its worst between the ages of 2-4.
- Sometimes eczema can be occupational (hairdressers, farmers, carpenters, cleaners, etc.).
- Eczema is NOT contagious.
- Eczema can go hand-in-hand with allergies and asthma (also known as the atopy triad). Those who have one of the three are more susceptible to the others.
- Treatment for eczema is typically intermittent and can vary between topical corticosteroids, topical calcineurin inhibitors, antibiotics, antihistamines, intralesional corticosteroids, phototherapy, or oral corticosteroids. Usually a combination of medications are used for optimal results depending on the severity, age of the patient, and location of the flare up.
Eczema is a complex condition that medical professionals are learning more and more about each day. In the past 2 years alone, 2 new medications have been brought into the market to treatment eczema.