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General Information: Atopic Dermatitis - inflammation of skin.

What can I expect from treatment?

Unfortunately, there is no "magic cure" that will always eliminate atopic dermatitis. The main objective in treating atopic dermatitis is to decrease the skin eruption and relieve the itching. There are a number of different forms of medication that are used for atopic dermatitis, and medications that are best suited to control the problem will be chosen. Primarily "topical medications" (medications that are applied to the skin) will be used. Because the skin is usually excessively dry, lubricants will be prescribed that will effectively decrease the dryness. If soap is tolerated, a mild soap is recommended. Cortisone derived ointments or creams may also be suggested, and are very important in decreasing the itching and controlling the inflammation. Your doctor will suggest a cortisone treatment that is most appropriate for the severity and location of the dermatitis that is to be treated. When the area is clear, it is best to discontinue the use of the cortisone preparation, but continue the vigorous use of lubrication to try to prevent new areas of dermatitis from occurring. Of course, if itching or a new rash begins, the cortisone preparation may have to be reintroduced. Newer, non-cortisone, preparations may be prescribed for long-term care.

Certain internal medicines, called "antihistamines" may help to control itching. Other internal medicines, called “antibiotics” may be used if the rash becomes infected. Full body phototherapy with ultraviolet light can be used to control more severe cases of atopic dermatitis. We use narrow-band UVB light sources, which is the most safe and effective type of light source available. Additionally, our practice features the PHAROS EX-308 excimer laser. This painless, convenient, and effective treatment modality can be used to treat localized areas of atopic dermatitis. By targeting only affected areas of skin, the laser spares the patient’s healthy tissue from exposure. This is ideal for patients, especially children, for whom steroids and full-body booth UV phototherapy may not be desirable treatment options.

Other Important Forms of Treatment
1. Avoid contact with substances you know cause itching. These may include soaps, detergents, certain perfumes, dust, grass weeds, wools and other types of scratchy clothing. In the winter, for example, cotton underwear or a cotton shirt may be worn under the sweater. Do not use fabric softeners such as Bounce, Snuggles or Cling-free. Use a laundry detergent with the word “free” in it, such as Tide-free, All-free, Cheer-free, or Arm and Hammer-free. The "free" means that it doesn't have dyes and fragrances in it. Also, double rinse all clothes and sheets.

2. You may bathe daily or every other day. ALWAYS use lubrication immediately after bathing. Use a thick moisturizer such as Linage® Moisturizer (available at our office), Eucerin Plus Cream, Cetaphil Cream, Aquaphor, or Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline). Avoid hot water and bubble baths. Try to take a shower. When drying with the towel, pat, do not rub. Use a mild soap (such as unscented Dove Bar Soap or Cetaphil cleanser) only where needed.

3. Try to keep the temperature and humidity in the home fairly constant. Use a bedroom air conditioner in the summer and a vaporizer in winter. It is very important that the vaporizer or humidifier be cleaned well and frequently, since molds may grow and cause allergic manifestations.

4. Try to avoid scratching. Atopic dermatitis is often called "the itch that rashes" and it is known that scratching plays a very important role in making the dermatitis worse. Keeping the nails short and well-filed, and using other measures to help to keep the child from itching are helpful.

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