- Take the Eczema Quiz!
- Eczema Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
- Adult Skin Problems Slideshow
- Patient Comments: Atopic Dermatitis - Describe Your Experience
- Patient Comments: Atopic Dermatitis - Treatments
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
- Atopic dermatitis facts
- What is atopic dermatitis?
- Atopic dermatitis vs. eczema
- How common is atopic dermatitis?
- What are the causes and risk factors of atopic dermatitis?
- Is atopic dermatitis contagious?
- What are atopic dermatitis symptoms and signs?
- Can atopic dermatitis affect the face?
- What are the stages of atopic dermatitis?
- What specialists treat atopic dermatitis?
- How do physicians diagnose atopic dermatitis?
- How can people prevent and avoid aggravating factors for atopic dermatitis?
- What are skin irritants in patients with atopic dermatitis?
- Are food allergies important in atopic dermatitis?
- What are aeroallergens?
- What are home remedies for atopic dermatitis?
- What is the treatment for atopic dermatitis?
- What is the prognosis of atopic dermatitis?
Quick GuideEczema (Atopic Dermatitis) Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
What specialists treat atopic dermatitis?
Pediatricians, allergists, and dermatologists care for most patients with atopic dermatitis.
How do physicians diagnose atopic dermatitis?
The diagnosis is made on the physical examination and visual inspection of the skin. The personal history of inhalant allergies and family history will often support the diagnosis. Although itching is necessary but not sufficient to diagnose atopic dermatitis, consideration of other itchy eruptions is often necessary.
A skin biopsy (a sample of a small piece of skin that is sent to the lab for examination under the microscope) is rarely helpful to establish the diagnosis. Many patients with severe atopic disease may have elevated numbers of a certain type of white blood cells (eosinophils) and/or elevated serum IgE level. These tests can support the diagnosis of atopic dermatitis. Additionally, skin swab (long cotton tip applicator or Q-tip) samples may be sent to the lab to exclude staphylococcal infections of the skin, which may complicate atopic dermatitis.
Skin scratch/prick tests (which involve scratching or pricking the skin with a needle that contains a small amount of a suspected allergen) and blood tests for airborne allergens generally are not as useful in diagnosing atopic dermatitis. Positive skin scratch/prick test results are difficult to interpret in people with atopic dermatitis and are often inaccurate.
Major and minor features of atopic dermatitis
- Characteristic rash in locations typical of the disease (arm folds and behind knees)
- Chronic or repeatedly occurring symptoms
- Personal or family history of atopic disorders (eczema, hay fever, asthma)
Some minor features
- Early age of onset
- Dry, rough skin
- High levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody, in the blood
- Hyper linear palms
- Keratosis pilaris
- Hand or foot dermatitis
- Cheilitis (dry or irritated lips)
- Nipple eczema
- Susceptibility to skin infection
- Positive allergy skin tests