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Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) (cont.)

Exams and Tests

Most cases of atopic dermatitis can be diagnosed from a medical history and a physical exam.

Allergy testing

Your doctor may recommend allergy testing to find out what might be causing your atopic dermatitis. Allergy testing is most helpful for people with atopic dermatitis who also have respiratory allergies or asthma.

Testing can also help find out if certain foods, such as eggs or nuts, are making the condition worse. Talk with your doctor about testing for allergies before making dietary changes.

If a specific allergen is thought to trigger your atopic dermatitis, you and your doctor will discuss how to eliminate it from your diet or environment while closely observing and recording your symptoms.

Treatment Overview

Treatment for atopic dermatitis depends on the type of rash you have. Most mild cases can be treated at home with moisturizers—especially skin barrier repair moisturizers—and preventive care. Most of the time, rash and itching can be controlled within 3 weeks.

For more serious rashes, you will need to see your doctor for treatment. These rashes include:

  • An oozing rash, with fluid-filled sores that ooze fluid or crust over. You may have a skin infection.
  • A scaly, dry, red, and itchy rash.
  • Areas of thickened skin (lichenified skin).

Getting medical treatment early may keep your symptoms from getting worse.

For rashes that don't get better with medicines or moisturizers, treatment may include:

For itching, treatment may include antihistamines. Also, taking baths with colloidal oatmeal (such as Aveeno) or applying wet dressings to the rash for 30 minutes several times a day may help.

In severe cases, hospitalization may be needed. A short stay in the hospital can quickly control the condition.

What to think about

Counseling may be helpful for children and adults with atopic dermatitis. Talking with a counselor can help reduce stress and anxiety caused by atopic dermatitis and can help a person cope with the condition.

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