What is Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)?
Atopic dermatitis affects about 10% of infants and 3% of all people in the United States.
The disease usually improves in childhood or by early adulthood. Some are affected throughout life, although, usually not as severely as during childhood.
Currently there is no cure for Atopic Dermatitis; however, improvement may be achieved through proper skin care and medications.
Infantile Atopic Dermatitis occurs from 2 months to 2 years of age. The scalp, neck, forehead, wrists, and extremities are often involved. Dry skin nearly always exacerbates the dermatitis. In time, a thickened appearance may occur at the areas of chronic itching and scratching. The role of food allergy is controversial. Allergies to milk, egg, peanuts, wheat, fish, soy and chicken may be causative in children less than 2 years of age. Children usually outgrow this allergy and are later able to eat the offending food without a problem. Eliminate one food at a time to identify the culprit. Avoid wool or rough clothing.
Childhood Atopic Dermatitis occurs in children from 2 to 10 years of age. Children usually have a drier, bumpier rash in the elbows and knee bends, the wrists, eyelids, face and neck may be involved. Itching is the most prominent feature. Children are less sensitive to foods but more sensitive to feather containing objects, cat or dog hair, lacquer paint, nickel and ragweed.
Adolescent and adult Atopic Dermatitis occurs after age 10. The presentation varies from localized scaly lesions to more generalized involvement. The most common locations involve the knee bends, neck, forehead, hands, behind the ears and wrists. Itching is the key symptom and dry skin is a prominent feature. Triggers for the rash include rough clothing, wool irritation, foods (rarely) and stress.
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