Atopic Dermatitis 101

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a skin disease that is a form of eczema. It is a chronic condition that is linked to autoimmune problems. Though the exact cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown, it is known that it has a strong genetic component and is linked to inhalant allergies.

Because AD is associated with immune problems, it is hypothesized that the protective barrier of the skin can break down from working too hard. Though the condition can present in adults, it is most common in children because their immune systems aren't as strong as adults'. 


An official diagnosis is not necessary to determine if you have atopic dermatitis. It is an easy condition to self-diagnose if you know what to look for. However, if you do see a dermatologist, they can diagnose atopic dermatitis by giving you an exam, possibly doing a simple patch test, and asking about a family history of eczema. 


By far the most common symptom for atopic dermatitis is itchiness. Manifestations are worst in areas where the skin folds and has friction such as the back of the knees, the neck, wrists, and arms. You may be prone to scratching, which results in more inflammation, which, in turn, results in more itchiness. This is what is known as the itch-scratch cycle. 

Flare-ups that exacerbate symptoms occur due to heat, dry air, and stress. The skin develops scaly plaques, minute blister formations, swelling, cracking, or crusting. 

Medical Treatments

Most treatments for atopic dermatitis focus on rehydration. Powerful topical creams and serums can be prescribed by a dermatologist to help the skin heal.

Systemic treatments — those that are used internally — help deal with the root of the problem. Probiotics can be given to babies to help prevent the development of atopic dermatitis. Steroids are sometimes prescribed to lessen inflammation. There are also many medications that a dermatologist can prescribe. Along with those mentioned, antihistamines and antibiotics are also occasionally used as forms of treatment. 

Home Remedies

Though medications are a great option, several home remedies can also be effective in treating AD. Using a high-quality lotion multiple times a day restores hydration to the skin and decreases symptoms. Lotions that have healthy oils and vitamin E, such as cocoa butter, are extremely effective. 

Other effective remedies are aloe vera, oatmeal, coconut oil, tea tree oil, and honey. Many people also believe that reducing dairy consumption helps heal atopic dermatitis.

Though dealing with atopic dermatitis may feel daunting, you are not alone, and it is something that can be eliminated with proper treatment. For more atopic dermatitis disease resources, contact a local dermatologist.