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Atopic Dermatitis / Eczema

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a common inflammatory condition characterized by an inflamed rash with itching, scaling, and sometimes blisters. Atopic dermatitis can present anywhere on the body and tends to favor the face, arms, and legs. Itching and irritation of the skin are the most common symptoms, and severity can vary from one person to another. Patients with a history of asthma or allergies may experience more severe symptoms. Repeat scratching or rubbing of the skin can result in oozing, crusting, and thickening of the skin. Individuals with severely dry skin may also develop painful cracks or fissures.

Atopic dermatitis (AD) can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. It is thought to be caused by an abnormality of the body’s immune system (often due to over-activity of a specific part of the immune system) and its interaction with the environment. This condition is very common in children and usually presents before the age of five. Although there are various treatment options, atopic dermatitis tends to be chronic and recurring with periodic flares. Patients often have sensitive skin which can be easily aggravated by environmental factors such dry weather, excessive moisture, household cleaning products, harsh soaps, plants & vegetation, etc. Approximately 60% of children may outgrow eczema by early adulthood, although it can persist into adulthood. Adults with eczema tend to have a more chronic and relapsing course. There are also different subtypes of eczema:

Asteatotic Dermatitis

Eczema is often associated with dry skin. Patients may experience small cracks and fissures with inflammation of the skin. Often flares during the winter when the weather is dry and cooler.

Contact Dermatitis

 Inflammation of the skin due to environmental allergens and irritants. Causes may include: perfumes & fragrances, household cleaning products & detergents, cosmetics, jewelry (often nickel), weeds & plants, fabrics, leather, and rubber. Sometimes patch testing may be needed to help identify a specific allergen.

Dyshidrotic Dermatitis

Eczema which may involve the sweat glands of hands and feet. Patients may experience inflamed skin with small vesicles which can itch severely. This condition may flare with repeat hand washing or excessive moisture.

Nummular Dermatitis

Common form of eczema which can present as round patches of inflamed itchy skin. Although this condition can present anywhere, it tends to favor the arms and legs, and usually flares during winter time. Nummular dermatitis is commonly mistaken for ringworm due to its round configuration.

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