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Atopic dermatitis in Adult
See also in: External and Internal Eye
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Atopic dermatitis in Adult

See also in: External and Internal Eye
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Contributors: Azeen Sadeghian MD, Whitney A. High MD, JD, MEng, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Synopsis

Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a chronic, relapsing, pruritic condition that is often associated with allergic rhinitis and/or asthma. Infants and children are most often affected, with 85% of cases appearing in the first year of life, and 95% of cases appearing by 5 years. Uncommonly, the condition may persist into, or even arise in, adulthood. Less than 1% of adults are affected by atopic dermatitis.

In infants, the disease involves primarily the face, scalp, torso, and extensor aspects of extremities. In children and adults, the disease usually involves chiefly the flexural aspects of extremities, but it may be more generalized. In adults, flexural skin may be clear and disease may be focal or widespread. Follicular patterns of atopic dermatitis (ie, follicular eczema) are more common in persons with darker skin phototypes.

Atopic dermatitis may be categorized as follows:
  • Acute – erythema, vesicles, bullae, weeping, crusting
  • Subacute – scaly plaques, papules, round erosions, crusts
  • Chronic eczema – lichenification, scaling, hyper- and hypopigmentation
The cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown. Genetic and environmental predisposing factors exist. Multiple loci have been associated with atopic dermatitis. A family history of atopic dermatitis is common. Patients with atopic dermatitis have difficulties in retaining skin moisture and suffer from xerosis (dry skin). Environmental triggers, such as heat, humidity, detergents / soaps, abrasive clothing, chemicals, smoke, and even stress, tend to aggravate the condition. Latex allergy and nickel allergy occur more often in persons with atopic dermatitis. Additionally, patients with atopic dermatitis have been found to be more likely to have positive patch test results to products commonly found in topical treatments, including cocamidopropyl betaine, wool alcohol / lanolin, and tixocortol pivalate. Allergy to eggs, cow's milk, or peanuts is common. There may be a relationship between atopic dermatitis and the development of aspirin-related respiratory disease.

Intense pruritus (itching) is a hallmark of atopic dermatitis. Scratching leads to lichenification (skin thickening). Impaired barrier function leads to increased water loss and cutaneous infections. Patients with atopic dermatitis are prone to impetiginization with Staphylococcus aureus. Secondary infections with herpes simplex virus (eczema herpeticum), Coxsackie viruses (eczema coxsackium), or vaccinia virus (eczema vaccinatum) may transpire.

For more information, see OMIM.

Codes

ICD10CM:
L20.9 – Atopic dermatitis, unspecified

SNOMEDCT:
24079001 – Atopic dermatitis

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Last Reviewed: 02/20/2017
Last Updated: 10/05/2018
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Atopic dermatitis in Adult
See also in: External and Internal Eye
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Atopic dermatitis : Bilateral, Dry skin, Erythema, Excoriated skin lesion, Flexural, Lichenified plaque, Thickened skin, Ocular pruritus, Pruritus
Clinical image of Atopic dermatitis
A close-up of follicular papules with scale.
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