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Key Information About Atopic Dermatitis

Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.

Atopic dermatitis is a common skin disease characterized by areas of severe itching, redness, scaling, and loss of the surface of the skin.

The prevalence of this chronic condition is estimated to be 15-20 percent in children. It affects up to 14 percent of adults worldwide.

The incidence has increased by 2- to 3-fold during the past decades in industrialized nations.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology children often get atopic dermatitis (AD) during their first year of life.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

A skin disease of major importance, atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by pruritus and a typical morphology and distribution of skin lesions.

— Attiya Haroon, MD, PhD & Amy S. Pappert, MD


Atopic dermatitis is caused by a combination of factors that include genetics, abnormal functioning of the immune system, environment, activities that may cause skin to be more sensitive, and defects in the skin barrier that allow moisture out and germs in.

A study in the British Journal of Dermatology finds a modest link between the loss of a partner and that person developing psoriasis and atopic dermatitis in the 3 months afterward, offering some evidence that acute stress can be a trigger for these conditions.

Certain modifiable lifestyle factors (including alcohol consumption) may increase disease severity risk in patients with atopic dermatitis, according to a research study findings published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology.

Atopic dermatitis prevalence and persistence are high in children in the urban United States who are female or black.

Some of the reasons for this disparity in AD can include social and economic risk factors (lower household income, lower parental education attainment, exposure to smoking and more).



Exposure to allergens (like pollen, pet dander or peanuts), stress, dry skin, some fabrics, soaps, household cleaners and infection are known triggers for this relapsing skin disease.


Symptoms include dry skin; itching, which may be severe, especially at night; red to brownish-gray patches, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and in infants, the face and scalp; small, raised bumps, which may leak fluid and crust over when scratched; thickened, cracked, scaly skin; and raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching.

Asthma plus atopic dermatitis may lead to poorer sleep-specific outcomes in pediatric patients, according to research presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, held November 7 to11, 2019, in Houston, Texas.


Doctors will be able to diagnose this condition by examination. As part of the exam, they will review the patient's medical history. They may order blood and skin patch tests to rule out other conditions.


With the emergence of new treatments for atopic dermatitis in the skin health industry in recent years, dermatologists have more options than ever for providing relief to their patients.

Antihistamine pills, moisturizer, low-potency topical hydrocortisone products, prednisone or corticosteroid may be used to treat this skin condition. Oatmeal baths provide relief from discomfort.

Wet dressings with black tea could offer an effective, well-tolerated and low-cost treatment for facial atopic dermatitis, a study published in Journal of Dermatological Treatment suggests.

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Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi announced in July 2019 that the European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has adopted a positive opinion for Dupixent® (dupilumab), recommending to extend its approval in the European Union to include adolescents 12 to 17 years of age with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis who are candidates for systemic therapy.

Coconut oil, which is good for the skin, is used to treat atopic dermatitis.

"Biologics give us the opportunity to treat psoriasis or atopic dermatitis by targeting the parts of the immune system that are responsible for those diseases" says Magaret Bobonich, DNP, DCNP, an assistant professor with Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

Omalizumab (Xolair) significantly improves symptoms for children with severe atopic dermatitis and reduces their reliance on topical corticosteroids.

Tralokinumab could be an efficacious and well-tolerated long-term treatment solution for patients with this chronic disease.

Over 32 weeks, it was found that continued use of tralokinumab treatment plus topical corticosteroids as needed provided progressive and sustained improvements in atopic dermatitis signs, symptoms, and health-related quality of life as published in the journal, American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2022.

Ruxolitinib cream is associated with improvement in work productivity and daily activity compared with vehicle and may lower the indirect cost burden for patients with atopic dermatitis, according to findings from a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology.

While there is some evidence that dilute apple cider vinegar might improve skin barrier integrity in atopic dermatitis, there isn’t strong safety and efficacy data to support its use in atopic dermatitis. So it is best not to use it to treat this condition.


When to See a Dermatologist

"If you notice an infection on your baby’s skin, such as pus-filled blisters, sores, or yellowish-orange crusts on the skin, or if you have questions about how to care for your baby’s eczema, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist" said board-certified dermatologist Dr Anna Yasmine Kirkorian, MD, FAAD.


Evidence for various existing disease prevention strategies (like avoidance of allergens and dietary interventions) has been unconvincing and inconsistent.

Fresh approaches to prevent the disease include trying to induce tolerance to allergens in early life, and enhancing the defective skin barrier to reduce skin inflammation, sensitisation and subsequent allergic disease.

Avoid long, hot baths. Use lukewarm water instead. Keep the room temperature as regular as possible. Use moisturizers several times daily.


Atopic dermatitis is a skin disease.

Stress can trigger this condition.

Scaly skin is a symptom of atopic dermatitis.

It is diagnosed by examination.

Prednisone may be used to treat this disease.


For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Prevalence of atopic dermatitis is estimated to be _____ percent in children.
    • 45-50
    • 35-40
    • 15-20
    • 25-30
  2. Which among these can trigger atopic dermatitis?
    • Soap
    • Dry skin
    • Stress
    • Any of the above
  3. Itching is a symptom of atopic dermatitis.
    • True
    • False
  4. Antihistamine is not used to treat atopic dermatitis.
    • True
    • False
  5. Oatmeal baths provide relief from discomfort.
    • True
    • False

Answer Key

  1. 15-20
  2. Any of the above
  3. True
  4. False
  5. True

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R


Srikanth R (author) on July 20, 2019:

Thank you.

Lorna Lamon on July 20, 2019:

This is a very informative article with good treatment tips. I use coconut oil for just about everything in particular the skin. Thank you for sharing.

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