Patient Education

What is atopic dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, and is a chronic inflammatory allergic skin disorder. Symptoms include itching, dry, scaly areas of the skin. Atopic dermatitis is most common with a family history of asthma, allergic rhinitis or atopic dermatitis. It is also the most common skin condition for children under the age of 12 and occurs in approximately 10% of all children.

In infants and toddlers, the areas of skin involved are typically the face, elbows and/or knees. In older children and adults, areas of involvement are usually the hands, neck, inner elbows, behind the knees and the ankles. It is not contagious. Although it typically becomes less severe as one becomes older. It is a lifelong condition.

What causes atopic dermatitis?

Some of the many causes that cause atopic dermatitis include allergic triggers, such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander or mold exposure. Foods, stress, hormonal changes and latex are also additional causes.

What are treatments for atopic dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is the itch that rashes. Therefore, treatment is focused on controlling itch. Moisturization and hydration of the skin will lessen the sensation of itch. Keep fingernails short will help decrease irritation from scratching affected areas. Avoid extreme temperatures, skin irritants (soaps, rough fabrics), allergens (dust mites, food), emotional stress, and perspiration (wear cotton clothing). Addressing inflammation with medications, such as antihistamines, are helpful. Topical steroids or topical immunomodulators (Protopic, Elidel) can be used to treat the rash. In some situations, a bacterial or fungal skin infection is the cause and oral antibiotics or antifungal creams may be needed to treat the infection.


Lisa Roth, MD
Director, Allergy & Immunology
Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
TJH Medical Services, PC
134-20 Jamaica Ave, 1st Floor
Jamaica, NY 11418
718-206-6742 phone
718-206-6905 fax


Pollen Forecast


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