Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a disease affecting approximately 10 percent of children, and 2 percent of the U.S. population. It is a chronic condition that tends to begin in childhood, and often improves with age. Patients with atopic dermatitis commonly have asthma or allergic rhinitis, or family members with these conditions. These three conditions together form the "atopic triad" of disease.
Atopic dermatitis is caused by an alteration in the skin's normal mechanisms of inflammation. The epidermis is overly sensitive to any kind of irritation and easily becomes itchy and inflamed. Scratching leads to tears in the skin, reddening of the skin, and a leathery thickening of the skin. Lesions can become infected with Staph bacteria and require antibiotics for treatment.
The appropriate management of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis is best handled by a dermatologist. Treatment regimens involving topical corticosteroids, antibiotics, emollients, anti-itching medications, and in some cases topical (e.g., Protopic, Elidel) or systemic immunomodulators are key to successful control of this chronic disease. Dermatologists are best equipped to educate patients regarding avoidance of common triggers of atopic dermatitis as well as to make recommendations for preventative skin cleansing and moisturizing regimens.
The dermatology staff at UConn Health are experts in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Specialized care for difficult pediatric patients is available and all current therapies including ultraviolet light are offered.
If you, a family member, or a friend are suffering from atopic dermatitis, please feel free to contact us for an appointment and full evaluation.