DESCRIPTIONAtopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin that is often associated with other allergic disorders that affect the respiratory system, such as asthma or hay fever. Atopic dermatitis affects children and adolescents. In young children, this problem is frequently called eczema.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSItching rash in areas of your child's body where heat and moisture are retained, such as skin creases of elbows, knees, neck, face, hands, feet, groin, genitals, and around the anus.
Dry, thickened skin in affected areas.
Uncontrolled scratching (frequently unconscious).
Chronic fatigue from loss of sleep due to severe itching.
Unknown, but probably inherited and probably related to immune-system deficiency.
RISK FACTORSHay fever or asthma.
Family history of atopic dermatitis or other allergic disorders.
Stress. The rash and itching increase during stressful periods.
Use of immunosuppressive drugs.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCECannot be prevented at present.
MEDICAL TESTSLaboratory blood studies and patch tests to identify allergies.
Secondary bacterial infection in the affected area.
Increased susceptibility to adverse drug reactions.
Decreased resistance to fungal and viral infections.
Permanent scarring from scratching.
Unpredictable. Flare-ups and remissions may occur throughout your child's life.
Use cool-water soaks for crusting, oozing lesions. These soaks decrease your child's itching and remove crusts.
Bathe your child in cool water with cleansing agents other than soap.
Encourage your child to wear loose-fitting, cotton clothing--avoid wool and synthetics.
Don't allow your child to be vaccinated against smallpox. It can cause a life-threatening reaction.
Reduce stress in your child's life, if possible. See Appendix 19 for suggestions.
MEDICATIONTo relieve your child's minor itching, use non-prescription topical steroids or coal-tar preparations.
For severe itching, your doctor may prescribe:
-- More potent topical steroids.
-- Oral cortisone drugs (rarely, and for short periods only).
-- Antihistamines or mild tranquilizers.
-- Lubricating ointments for the child's hands.
-- Antibiotics (sometimes) to fight secondary infections.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
No restrictions except to keep your child cool and to avoid prolonged exposure to heat.
DIET & FLUIDS
An allergy diet (See Appendix 26) may be necessary, if food allergy is suspected.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
Your child develops fever or uncontrolled itching during a flare-up.