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Atopic Dermatitis

One of the most common skin conditions world-wide is what dermatologists call atopic dermatitis, or eczema. Sometimes patients call this condition “Winter Itch” as well – because it can become more of a problem in the winter – due to the drying effects of the cold north wind upon our skin.

Eczema is an itchy, dry skin condition that tends to develop in childhood, but it can also first surface in adulthood. It tends to favor the arms, legs, neck, and face, but it can occur anywhere. Eczema can be active in any season of the year, and sometimes it surfaces with the change in the seasons. And it can make people miserable until they realize that effective therapy is now available.

The first step with a rash or skin eruption is to consider seeing a healthcare provider, a doctor, or a dermatologist. As a practicing dermatologist for the last 26 years, my own treatment plans for eczema – like those of most Board-Certified dermatologists in the United States - tend to start with what are called prescription topical steroid creams and ointments, because they often give quick relief from itching and burning. Other options include steroid-free products called Protopic® Ointment (tacrolimus), Elidel® Cream (pimecrolimus), and a promising agent called Eucrisa® Ointment (crisaborole).

We also sometimes consider a short course of oral steroid tablets, called prednisone, or even what’s called a Medrol® (methylprednisolone) shot. These can give patients much more prompt relief from their symptoms or rash.

Environmental problems that promote flares of eczema need to be limited: use of overly drying soaps, or failure to use skin lubricants or moisturizers:

  • We tend to recommend fragrance-free soaps, such as Cetaphil® Cleanser or Dove® for Sensitive Skin Soap. Another option is a soap that’s available from Big River Silk Skincare™ Inc. called AmberSoy™ Soap Gel (

  • Helpful options for skin lubricants or moisturizers include Lubriderm®, Moisturel®, Aveeno®, and several new moisturizers: GlycoShea™ Hand&Body Cream and GlycoShea™ Facial&Neck Cream, both available from Big River Silk Skincare Inc. (1-888-363-8593). The GlycoShea products are fragrance-free, with no dyes, no formaldehyde nor parabens, no cocamidopropyl betaine, and are derived from Shea Butter. They are also natural, organic, and botanical.

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