Dermatologists and Skin Care

What Is Atopic Dermatitis?

Written by Dr. Rabia and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan

Image: What Is Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is an itchy skin condition in which skin is very dry. This condition starts in childhood, even in infancy. Apart from dryness, these individuals can have other features of atopy like sneezing, asthma, allergic rhinitis (runny nose), and watering from eyes. A family history of atopy can also be positive. These individuals are more prone to have frequent skin infections that can be bacterial or viral or fungal.

They have allergies to multiple things like food, woolen clothing, etc. Itching is the most troublesome symptom present, which gets aggravated by multiple factors like extreme weather, infection, and prolonged bathing. Itching causes sleep disturbances and interferes with daily activities.

Atopic individuals can have eye problems. They can present with watering from eyes, redness, and itching, which are all symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis. In severe cases, it can lead to cataract formation in the eyes.

Atopic individuals can present with urticaria, which causes wheels and hives due to multiple allergies. The most common viral infection such people present with is herpes infection, which also aggravates their atopic skin condition.

In some individuals, the condition gets better with age, but in others, it persists. It can be a very distressing condition, and a high rate of depression is found in such people.


The reason for dryness of the skin is a decrease in the natural moisturizing factor that is inherently low in these individuals. For management of atopic dermatitis, proper hydration and moisture of skin have to be maintained as follows:

  1. Refrain from taking long baths.
  2. After bathing, apply liquid paraffin and soft white paraffin on the skin.
  3. Olive oil massage can be done to decrease dryness.
  4. For very inflamed skin, steroids can be used for a short period.
  5. For severe conditions, hospital admission is required, and oral immunosuppressive therapy can be given.
  6. Phototherapy is another treatment option.
Last reviewed at: 09.Mar.2019



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