Although atopic dermatitis is a very common inflammatory skin condition in children and results in many pediatric healthcare visits, its exact cause is unknown. No single laboratory test can reliably diagnose atopic dermatitis, but a relatively simple set of diagnostic criteria was recently validated for use by practicing physicians. Because existing remedies for atopic dermatitis do not cure the disorder, a program of disease control and management should be pursued. Patients and their caregivers should be advised that current therapies are primarily preventive and palliative. However, a comprehensive plan that includes routine general skin care, medical management of symptoms, identification and avoidance of aggravating factors (including psychological factors), and attention to quality-of-life issues can reduce the occurrence of skin flares. Successful treatment of acute flare-ups can be achieved with appropriate use of topical corticosteroids, but occasionally children afflicted with severe atopic dermatitis require more intensive therapies (e.g., ultraviolet light exposure, systemic corticosteroids, and cyclosporine) that need close physician monitoring. Physicians must remain mindful of the psychological and quality-of-life burdens imposed on children with atopic dermatitis and their families and tailor treatments to the needs of each individual patient.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health