Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) FAQs

Q: What is atopic dermatitis (eczema)?
A: Atopic dermatitis is often referred to as eczema. There is a difference between atopic dermatitis and eczema, but for the purposes of discussion, the terms will be used interchangeably.

Q: What is the relationship between atopic dermatitis and food?
A: Food allergy is thought to contribute to atopic dermatitis in up to one half of affected children. The most common food allergens are egg, soy, milk, wheat, fish, shellfish, and peanut. Most food allergies in children resolve as they get older, so atopic dermatitis related to food triggers is usually self-limited.

Q: How is atopic dermatitis diagnosed?
A: Patient history and the appearance of the rash are the most important factors to take into consideration when making a diagnosis of atopic dermatitis.

Q: How is atopic dermatitis treated?
A: Depending on the severity of the atopic dermatitis, the treatment regimen can include any combination of moisturizing lotions, topical steroids, topical immunomodulatory creams, topical urea-containing products, wet dressings, and bleach baths (2 teaspoons of household bleach per gallon of bath water). Oral steroids can be used for severe, acute flares.
Oral antihistamines are useful to control itching. Eczema is often called the “itch that rashes” and prevention of itching can reduce flares or severity of the rash.
If there is a suspected food allergy trigger, that food should be avoided. Fortunately, most children outgrow food triggers.