Atopic dermatitis affects your skin’s ability to hold onto moisture. Without proper moisturization, your skin becomes dry, itchy, and irritated. The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown but most people who have it usually have a personal or family history of allergies, such as hayfever or asthma.
Some things that can make atopic dermatitis worse include:
Dry, itchy skin is the main symptom of atopic dermatitis. Tiny bumps or blisters, as well as inflammation, may also appear. Over time, a recurring rash can lead to tough and thickened skin. Severe atopic dermatitis covers a large area of skin and can be very itchy. Depending on age, rashes can appear on the scalp, face, front of the knees, and the back of the elbows. In children, common areas include the neck, wrists, legs, ankles, the creases of elbows or knees, and between the buttocks. In adults, the rash often appears in the creases of the elbows or knees and on the nape. A doctor will be able to diagnose dermatitis by doing a physical exam and asking questions about your past health.
Some of the things you can do to treat atopic dermatitis at home include moisturizing the skin often with thicker creams and ointments, like petroleum jelly. It is also important to avoid things that trigger rashes, such as harsh soaps and detergents, dander, and to control scratching. If your symptoms are more severe a dermatologist can administer medical treatment to keep your symptoms from getting worse. In some cases, treatment can include prescription pills or give you a shot to stop the itching. Ultraviolet (UV) light treatment at a clinic or doctor's office can also help to treat atopic dermatitis.