Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Eczema is inflamed, dry, extremely itchy skin which often affects the skin folds of the arms and legs, hands, face, eyelids, and neck. During a flare-up, open, weepy, and crusted sores may develop from constant scratching or infection. Eczema usually begins in infancy and usually will improve in most children as they grow older.  Eczema is often the first sign of allergy in very young children.

Known triggers that worsen eczema include: airborne (especially house dust mites) allergens; chemical irritants in soaps and laundry detergents; skin infections.  In some cases (particularly in children), eczema may be triggered by food allergies.  Allergy testing followed by allergen avoidance is helpful in these cases.

Good skin care is essential for controlling the symptoms of eczema.

  • Bathe daily in warm water for 5-10 minutes, using a gentle soap such as Dove or Cetaphil.
  • Quickly pat dry after bathing, and immediately apply a moisturizer liberally to the damp skin. If possible, try not use a lotion (dries quickly) but something thicker like Vaseline.


Other tips:

  • Wash all new clothes before wearing. Loose fitting cotton clothes are preferable.
  • Use “hypoallergenic” detergent and rinse clothes on a second rinse cycle.
  • Swimming is fine but you should shower off afterwards (see above).


Allergy Evaluation:

  • Can often identify factors such as foods or airborne allergens that may be making the eczema worse and more difficult to control.
  • Skin care treatment along with allergen avoidance can often result in significant improvement
  • Children with eczema are at an increased risk for food allergies. Allergy testing at a young age for high risk foods such as peanut can lead to a reduced risk of developing a peanut allergy.
  • Allergy evaluation and testing can help to identify safe foods to feed your child and also identify high risk foods that must be avoided.
  • We routinely and safely skin test infants as young as 4-6 months of age.