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Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

What is Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is most commonly known as eczema. It often appears as a red, itchy rash or dry, scaly patches on the skin. Atopic dermatitis usually begins in infancy or childhood but can develop at any point in a person’s lifetime. It commonly shows up on the face, inside of the elbows, or behind the knees, but it can appear anywhere on the body.

Is it contagious?

You can’t catch atopic dermatitis or spread it to others.

What Causes it?

While the exact cause is unknown, researchers do know that people develop atopic dermatitis because of a combination of genes and triggers. People with atopic dermatitis tend to have an over-reactive immune system that when triggered by something outside or inside the body, responds by producing inflammation. It is this inflammation that causes red, itchy, and painful skin symptoms. Research also shows that some people with atopic dermatitis have a mutation in the gene responsible for filaggrin. Filaggrin helps our bodies maintain a healthy protective barrier on the very top layer of the skin. Without enough filaggrin, moisture can escape and bacteria can enter. This is why many people with atopic dermatitis have very dry and infection-prone skin.

Is Atopic Dermatitis related to other conditions?

Atopic dermatitis is part of a group of allergic conditions. In fact, "atopic" means allergy. These include asthma, hay fever, and food allergies. People who come from families with a history of atopic dermatitis, asthma, or hay fever are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis. Research also suggests that people with atopic dermatitis have higher rates of food allergies and symptoms of depression/ anxiety.

Is there a cure?

There is no cure for atopic dermatitis yet, but there are treatments available and more are on the way.

What are my treatment options?

It is important to have a routine skincare regimen with atopic dermatitis that includes bathing with a gentle cleanser and moisturizing to lock water into the skin and help repair the skin barrier. Well-moisturized skin helps control flares by combating dryness and keeping out irritants and allergens.

Over The Counter Creams and Ointments

Moisturizing creams and ointments can help control itching and aid to repair skin.  Choose products that are formulated for sensitive skin.

Examples: Aquaphor, Cetaphil, CereVe, Vaseline, Aveeno, Vanicream.


Topical Steroids, Topical Non-Steroidals (Elidel, Protopic (Tacrolimus), Eucrisa), Dupixent, and antihistamines are a few of the common treatments that your dermatology specialist may use to treat your skin.

To find out what the best treatment is for you, make an appointment with us today.

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