It's important to remember that while atopic dermatitis is a difficult disease, it is also a manageable one. With proper care, patients can lead fulfilling lives and participate fully in work and family activities. To do this, it helps to have an action plan. This section has details on developing such a plan, including:
Scratching is a natural response to the itching of the disease, but it only inflames the rash, making it itch even more. Further, scratching can break the skin's surface, making it prone to infections.
To control scratching:
Be careful about the clothes you wear and how you wash them. Care in these areas can help patients avoid irritants that trigger atopic dermatitis flares.
Extremes of temperature and humidity can be a problem for people with this condition. Sweating caused by overheating and high humidity can irritate the skin. Low humidity causes water to be lost from the skin. This can lead to dryness and skin irritation. Actions you can take:
Skin infections often are a problem for people with atopic dermatitis because the condition has damaged their skin barrier. Infections can become quite serious if they are not treated promptly, so it is important to recognize the signs:
If you see any of these signs, contact a healthcare provider immediately. He or she can provide appropriate medication or other treatment.
Though the goal of managing atopic dermatitis is self-care, you should consult your healthcare provider if:
Atopic dermatitis is categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. Patients usually can place themselves in one of these categories depending on how they feel. A change from one of these categories to another is reason to consult a healthcare provider. He or she can suggest changes in medications or in methods, such as "soak and seal," for bringing symptoms under control.
More information on atopic dermatitis (eczema) is available at these websites in the U.S.News & World Report library:
This site provides information on living with eczema, patient education pamphlets, and support group contact numbers. National Jewish Health
This site provides educational information about what atopic dermatitis is, how it’s treated, and how patients and families can cope with the disease. It also offers printed educational materials and telephone access to nurses who answer questions and provide additional resources.
The American Academy of Dermatology developed this website to provide patients with current information on the management and treatment of skin diseases. It describes medications used to treat eczema and offers a database of dermatologists. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: Atopic Dermatitis
This is the primary National Institutes of Health organization for research on eczema and atopic dermatitis. Medline Plus: Eczema (National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine)
This site provides a broad range of eczema links, including the latest news, information on diagnosis, treatment, clinical trials, directories, glossaries, and statistics. Eczema Resource
Produced in collaboration with experts, the Eczema Resource provides a forum for discussion about treatments for eczema, side effects of treatments, and ideas for tailoring treatments for infants and adults with mild to severe eczema. The site includes videos, transcripts, and articles that cover traditional and new treatments. Last reviewed on 10/21/09
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