What is it?
Atopic dermatitis (der-muh-TI-tis) is also called eczema (EGG-zih-muh). Eczema is an itchy, red skin rash. It happens more often in babies and young children, but people can get eczema at any age. Although there is no cure for eczema, it can be treated. Treatment includes staying away from things that cause your eczema flare-ups and using moisturizers and special medicines. Eczema cannot be spread to others. It can be a short or long term problem and may last days, months, or years. Eczema that starts at a young age often goes away by the time the child becomes a teenager. Some people get eczema when they become a teenager or older. You may have problems with eczema all of your life.
The cause of eczema is unknown. You are more likely to have it if your parent or another family member has eczema, hayfever, or asthma. Certain conditions and substances called "triggers" may cause your eczema to flare-up. They are:
Signs and Symptoms:
Eczema is usually very itchy. It may be red, pimpled, blistered, or oozing (leaking fluid) with crusts. Over time, your eczema may become dark red or brown, thick, cracked, or scaly. It may hurt when touched or may feel hot. Skin that becomes very damaged (hurt) by eczema may fade and look pale after the rash is gone. Eczema on babies usually appears on the face, scalp (skin on the head), or any areas that are easily rubbed or scratched. Eczema may appear anywhere on the body. On older children and adults, it often appears on the hands, feet, and areas that bend or flex. These include eyelids, ankles, wrists, armpits, fronts of elbows, and behind the knees. Itching may be worst at night. It can be so miserable that people have a difficult time sleeping.
Avoid long showers or baths in hot water as these can worsen eczema symptoms. Use a moisturizing lotion after bathing.
There are many creams, including steroid creams, used to treat eczema. While steroid creams are helpful, other health problems may occur with long term use. Ultraviolet light treatments are sometimes used. You may need to take medicine by mouth if your eczema is bad.
Herbs and Supplements:
Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.
Other ways of treating your symptoms:
Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.
Talk to your caregiver if:
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
Call 911 or O (operator) if you have the following EARLY signs or symptoms that may mean you are having an anaphylactic reaction. Do not drive yourself.
Care agreement: You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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Last Updated: 4/4/2014
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