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Diseases & Conditions

Allergy Atopic Dermatitis

en Español

1. What Is Atopic Dermatitis?
2. Who Has Atopic Dermatitis? Will a Child Outgrow it?
3. What Makes the Rash Worse?
4. What Treatment Helps Atopic Dermatitis?
5. Where can I find more information?

1. What Is Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis, sometimes called eczema, is an allergic skin problem. Between 2-4 % of children have eczema. In eczema, the skin is very itchy and may be red, scaly or rough. At times the skin may bleed from scratching or form a crust from infection. In infants, the rash appears on the face, elbows, trunk and behind the legs. In older children it appears on the insides of the elbows, back of the knees and neck.


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2. Who Has Atopic Dermatitis? Will a Child Outgrow it?

No one knows the cause of eczema. However, it usually occurs in children and families who have eczema, asthma or allergies. At the moment there is no cure. However, most children will grow out of it before their teens. Some other children will have the rash into adulthood.
Fortunately, there are many things you and your child's doctor can do to keep the condition under control.

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3. What Makes the Rash Worse?

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4. What Treatment Helps Atopic Dermatitis?

Skin Care: Bathing and Moisturizing.

Bathe your child every day for 5-10 minutes in lukewarm water using a soap substitute such as Cetaphil lotion, Eucerin, Moisturel cleanser or Aveeno bar. You can also use a mild soap such as Dove fragrance-free but it should be rinsed off immediately. Avoid bubble baths. After leaving the bath or shower gently pat away water and immediately apply a moisturizer such as Vaseline, Hydrated petrolatum, Moisturel, Mineral oil or Cetaphil at least once a day generously all over. Repeat use of moisturizer as needed every day.

Stay away from things that make the rash worse.

1. Irritants

2. Allergens:


1. Control the itchiness: Antihistamines are oral medications used to control itching.

2. Relieve the inflammation: Topical corticosteroids are the most common anti-inflammatory medications used. Used them during bad flare-ups of the rash.

3. Treat the infection: If your child's skin is infected (intense redness, yellow crust, and/or pus in the rash) your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.

REMEMBER: There is no cure for eczema, but following these hints will help you control the rash!

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5. Where can I find more information?

Thank you to Yolanda Requena-Kassarjian, MD who wrote these patient help pages on Atopic/Dermatitis. 

For Patients

Call: 617.414.4841
Fax: 617.414.5741

Boston Medical Center
Department of Pediatrics
Pulmonary and Allergy Clinic
Shapiro Center
725 Albany Street, 8th Floor 
Boston, MA 02118

For Appointments or to Refer a Patient

Call: 800.682.2862
Fax: 617.414.5741

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