Many people visit the doctor and leave wondering, what is the difference between atopic dermatitis and eczema? Well, the two medical conditions are very similar. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of the group of skin disorders commonly called eczema.
Atopic dermatitis means “allergic swollen skin”. This condition is basically a skin allergy where the skin gets very red and itchy, usually in response to an allergen. It is most often found on the hands, feet, in the elbow, behind the knees, and on the face. If it is scratched open, the situation can get more complicated. In some cases, it may become infected. It often swells, cracks, and leaks clear fluid. For this reason, it’s necessary to try to control this disease as much as possible.
Eczema, on the other hand can take several different forms. It can be found anywhere on the body. In some cases, it is red, itchy skin. In others, it’s a rash with many red bumps. It can even resemble psoriasis with yellow scaling. Look at these pictures of eczema in babies and these pictures of eczema on arms to see some of the different forms of this skin condition.
Treatment for both are similar. For most people, it’s best to try to control this condition at home. Medicines can help deal with more severe cases, but the medication itself has side effects. The most common medication is corticosteroids, which is relatively safe. However, long term effects may occur if used in young children. At home, the best treatment is to try to avoid triggers that cause a flare up. These may be allergens like laundry detergent, soaps, and lotions. Anything containing dyes or fragrances should be suspect. Even certain types of fabric can cause flare ups. It’s also important to keep the skin moisturized with a soothing lotion like Eucerin or Aquaphor.