Atopic dermatitis (also known as childhood eczema) is a common chronic itchy skin complaint. Although most common in childhood, adults can also be affected.
The condition is most common in people with a personal or family history of other 'atopic' conditions including asthma and hay fever.
In childhood the rashes are most common in the skin folds of the elbows, knees and neck, in adulthood the rashes most commonly show up as ‘hand dermatitis’.
Although some people with atopic dermatitis also have allergies (for example to foods), allergy testing and special diets rarely completely control the complaint. Focussing instead on improving the ‘barrier function’ of the outer layer of the skin with a combination of creams tends to completely control the complaint for most people.
Combination dermatologic treatments tend to be very effective. For those children and adults with more severe atopic dermatitis, narrowband phototherapy is commonly used. Tablet treatments controlling immune-function are sometimes necessary.