Atopic Dermatitis (or Atopic Eczema)

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Atopic Dermatitis is also known as Atopic Eczema (or just Eczema) and is an itchy rash that occurs in some people with sensitive or irritable skin. While the cause is not known, it is a built-in skin defect that tends to run in families and is not contagious. Usually, the skin is dry and easily irritated by soap, detergents, or rough woolen clothing, as well as very hot or very cold weather. While certain allergies may worsen eczema, they don’t cause it.

How is Atopic Dermatitis Treated?

Unfortunately, no permanent cure is possible for Atopic Dermatitis; however, there are effective ways to control this skin defect:

  • Cortisone: Cortisone is applied to the skin in the form of lotion, creams, or greasy ointments. Most cortisone creams or salves can be used safely to treat eczema for years. Certain cortisone creams or salves may not be applied to the face, armpits, groin or rectal area – but your doctor will give you the right treatment for your situation.
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Salves: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory salves, such as Protopic or Elidel, may be used to help in the treatment of eczema.

Outside of medication used to control eczema, you should remember the following:

  • Keep your skin well-lubricated. If your skin is too dry, use a moisturizer after you rub in your cortisone cream or lotion. You may also find that using bath oil in the tub or after your shower will help keep your skin moist.
  • Keep soap away from your eczema. In most instances, soap irritates and dries skin, so if you have eczema, you should avoid using it when possible. When bathing or showering, use plain water; limit soap to your face, armpits, genital area, and feet. Your doctor may suggest certain body wash solutions for sensitive skin as well. If you need to wash your hands frequently with soap, be sure to rinse them carefully and apply cortisone cream or ointment afterward.
  • Avoid overheating. If you have eczema, you may find that hot weather and heavy sweating worsens it. If you are in those situations, wear cool, loose clothing, and try to stay in air-conditioned buildings.
  • Avoid wearing clothing that aggravates your skin. Avoid direct skin contact with wool or similar rough clothing. Remember, during colder months, you can layer your clothing to keep warm.
  • Avoid anything that “for sure” aggravates your eczema. Don’t use creams, make-up, perfumes or anything else you know will cause your eczema to itch or become more irritated.
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