How do I Choose the Best Atopic Dermatitis Treatment?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Atopic dermatitis is also called allergic eczema and it is a chronic (long-lasting) skin condition that causes rashes and itching. It most commonly occurs in children, but also affects adults. Rashes can flare based on exposure to allergens, or simply when people are exposed to skin irritants, and occasionally stress may create expression of the rash too. There are atopic dermatitis treatment options, but specific treatments may be tailored to the patient and there is no best way to treat the condition.

A reaction to perfume can cause atopic dermatitis.
A reaction to perfume can cause atopic dermatitis.

Despite different treatments existing, especially in terms of medicines used, there are some important behaviors that most people with atopic dermatitis should avoid or observe. A list of “Don’ts” exist for this condition and these include:

Severe itchy skin may be a sign of atopic dermatitis.
Severe itchy skin may be a sign of atopic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis causes rashes and itchiness.
Atopic dermatitis causes rashes and itchiness.
  • Showering for more than 10 minutes a day
  • Showering in hot instead of warm water
  • Wearing wool
  • Choosing clothing made of man-made fabrics
  • Using harsh detergents, perfumes, or irritating make-ups
  • Scratching the skin

Some of the basic atopic dermatitis treatment options or behaviors that all patients should observe include the following:

  • Keeping fingernails short
  • Using light, minimal ingredient moisturizer,
  • Maintaining an even body temperature
  • Choosing cotton clothing
  • Keeping stress levels low
  • Avoiding common allergens like pollen, animal dander, dust mites, or peanuts.

There are many medications that might be prescribed to either treat or prevent rash flare-ups. When a rash is present, patients may use topical creams that typically contain ingredients like corticosteroids. They may also benefit from oral steroids or from antihistamines. Some people could require antibiotics from time to time if a rash becomes infected.

When stress seems to cause significant flare-ups, atopic dermatitis treatment could include using antidepressants, which may have an affect on overall stress felt. Alternately it might involve other anti-anxiety medications. Stress might also indicate need for therapy, and of the therapies available, cognitive behavioral therapy may be most effective. Others prefer different therapeutic methods.

Another atopic dermatitis treatment is the use of certain medications to cut down on immune response. While these drugs may effectively treat the condition, they do have some drawbacks. When the body has an impaired immune system, it is much more vulnerable to serious infection from viruses and bacteria. Choosing an atopic dermatitis treatment that creates potentially serious health issues of other kinds must be weighed carefully and decided on a risks versus benefits basis.

An additional atopic dermatitis treatment that again has to be considered carefully is light therapy. This could mean exposing the skin to sunlight, or it can refer to using UVA and UVB lights in artificial settings. The drawback to this treatment is permanent damage to the skin. Yet for some people, this therapy, in combination with other treatments, is preferred.

Hydrocortisone cream can be used to treat atopic dermatitis.
Hydrocortisone cream can be used to treat atopic dermatitis.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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