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Atopic Dermatitis Skin Care


Items and actions that wouldn't bother normal skin can be very irritating to atopic dermatitis (AD) patients.

Keeping the skin well-moisturized helps reduce the itching and redness of the skin.  Use a hypoallergenic moisturizer.  Applying this within 5-10 minutes of bathing helps lock in the moisture.  Sometimes a prescription moisturizer is needed.

Soaps increase skin dryness- use a non-soap cleanser like Dove,  or Cetaphil. 

Protect your skin from contact with household chemicals.  Wear gloves for cleaning and laundry.  Pay attention to what substances cause your skin to flare- and learn to avoid these. 

Sometimes topical (applied to the skin) medication is needed.  Topical steroids can quickly decrease the redness and itching- but long term use carries risks of skin thinning and scarring (stretch marks).  Topical steroids are best for short-term use.

Bacterial infections of the skin are common in AD patients- mostly with the bacterium Staphylococcus aureas.  Topical or oral antibiotics may be needed to treat this.

Other topical medications such as the immunosuppressants tacrolimus or pimecrolimus may be needed for severe AD.  Ultraviolet light treatment is another promising new treatment- although this does carry the downside of increasing skin cancer risk.