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Atopic Dermatitis

A chronic skin disease characterized by itchy, inflamed skin.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

About Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects the skin. It is not contagious; it cannot be passed from one person to another. The word "dermatitis" means inflammation of the skin. "Atopic" refers to a group of diseases in which there is often an inherited tendency to develop other allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.

In atopic dermatitis, the skin becomes extremely itchy. Scratching leads to redness, swelling, cracking, "weeping" clear fluid, and finally, crusting and scaling. In most cases, there are periods of time when the disease is worse (called exacerbations or flares) followed by periods when the skin improves or clears up entirely (called remissions).

As some children with atopic dermatitis grow older, their skin disease improves or disappears altogether, although their skin often remains dry and easily irritated. In others, atopic dermatitis continues to be a significant problem in adulthood.

Atopic dermatitis is often referred to as "eczema," which is a general term for the several types of inflammation of the skin. Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema...Read more about Atopic Dermatitis NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Efficacy and tolerability of topical tacrolimus in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Bibliographic details: Li RX, Zhu HL, Fan LM, Ni SK, Feng CE, Wu ZH.  Efficacy and tolerability of topical tacrolimus in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Clinical Dermatology 2007; 36(12): 757-760

A systematic review of effectiveness and cost effectiveness of tacrolimus ointment for topical treatment of atopic dermatitis in adults and children

Bibliographic details: Penaloza Hidalgo B, Knight T, Burls A.  A systematic review of effectiveness and cost effectiveness of tacrolimus ointment for topical treatment of atopic dermatitis in adults and children. Birmingham: University of Birmingham, Department of Public Health and Epidemiology. West Midlands Health Technology Assessment Collaboration Report; 47. 2003 Available from: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/mds/projects/HaPS/PHEB/WMHTAC/REP/reports-list.aspx

[Efficacy of allergen-specific immunotherapy for atopic dermatitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials]

Bibliographic details: Pereira AM.  [Efficacy of allergen-specific immunotherapy for atopic dermatitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials]. Revista Portuguesa de Imunoalergologia 2013; 21(3): 215-216 Available from: http://rpia.spaic.pt/arquivos/?imr=8&fmo=artigo&ia=1&ano=2013&edicao=639&id_pub=1&opcao=2013

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Summaries for consumers

Comparing Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors

How effective are calcineurin inhibitors in treating mild to moderate atopic dermatitis?

Dietary supplements for established atopic eczema in adults and children

Eczema is a skin condition characterised by an itchy, red rash, which affects 5% to 20% of people worldwide. There is no cure, but many treatments can help improve the skin's condition, making life easier. In those for whom these treatments do not work well or who fear their long‐term effects, there is often a belief that either something in their diet, or something missing in their diet, is making their eczema worse.

Interventions to reduce Staphylococcus aureus in the management of atopic eczema

Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis or childhood eczema) is a big problem worldwide. The skin of people with atopic eczema often contains high numbers of a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus).

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More about Atopic Dermatitis

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