If you have eczema you’re likely to have asthma and allergies

You’ll often hear the terms atopic dermatitis and eczema used interchangeably. Atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, is a dry, red, itchy skin condition that occurs mostly in babies and young children but may continue into adulthood. While there is no clear cause for atopic dermatitis, a connection has been found between asthma and allergies, such as hay fever, and people who have atopic dermatitis. This “triad” (asthma, eczema, allergies) may be present in the person who has atopic dermatitis, or there may be family members who have the other conditions. Environmental factors such as climate, food, chemicals, and other types of allergens may also have an effect.

Symptoms of atopic dermatitis get worse with scratching

Atopic dermatitis often starts with dryness and itching or a rash in areas such as the cheeks (babies), the insides of the elbows, behind the knees, and the hands and feet. The symptoms get worse when you scratch, leading to additional skin symptoms such as:

  • Bleeding and cracking
  • Crusting
  • Oozing clear fluid
  • Scaling
  • Swelling
  • Thickening
  • Turning red and raw

Your condition may range from mild atopic dermatitis, which affects a small area of skin and is easily treatable with moisturizer, to more severe atopic dermatitis affecting a larger area (or areas) of skin and does not respond readily to treatment.

Preventing atopic dermatitis is hit or miss

Because the cause of atopic dermatitis is difficult to identify, preventive measures don’t always work. Many people try to remove possible eczema triggers in the home or in food with varying rates of success.

Effective treatment of atopic dermatitis often involves some combination of:

  • Keeping the skin clean and hydrated with allergy-free lotion
  • Applying corticosteroid ointment to the skin
  • Taking antihistamines to calm allergic symptoms and promote sleep
  • Taking antibiotics for skin infections
  • Receiving phototherapy (UVA/UVB combined light therapy)

Living with atopic dermatitis can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Your skin condition may worsen and make you more vulnerable to infection and other skin disorders. If your symptoms are disturbing your sleep or interfering with your daily life, it’s time to see a doctor.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.