Atopic dermatitis is an immunologically-based chronic skin condition affecting millions of people around the world. The itchy skin condition typically appears in infancy as "red, scaly, crusted, and sometimes weeping patches on both cheeks and on the (lower) extremities."
During childhood, the disease usually moves to "flexing" areas such as knees, elbows, wrists, and ankles. In adult life, the condition may fall into alternating cycles of relapse and remission.
General recommendations include use of soap substitutes, emollients (such as petroleum jelly) after bathing, and avoidance of irritants such as detergents, solvents, wool, and lanolin," the authors report UV light therapy has proven "especially useful in acute exacerbations of atopic dermatitis," they say, leading to a relief of symptoms (in some patients), often with complete clearance of the face, which is very sensitive to side-effects of topical steroids.
The standard treatment for the disease remains the topical application of immunosuppressant drugs called corticosteroid, which are sometimes used in combination with antibiotic therapy.
However, some patients react poorly to these medications, and other immunosuppressants, such as cyclosporin, "azathioprine, and tacrolimus have proven to be useful alternatives. The authors warn that all of these drugs come with certain side effects and some carry long-term cancer risks.
The Lancet June 6, 1998;351:1715-1721.
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
This is a good review of the traditional approach for this incredibly common illness. It saddens me greatly that potent cancer causing drugs are being used to treat this illness. The first basic step for anyone with eczema is to increase the omega-6 fatty acids.
Evening primrose oil would be the best option for GLA and you should take 6-12 capsules per day. Doses less than six per day will not work. Borage oil has large amounts of nervonic acid and should be avoided.
Omega three oils are also very important and my favorite recommendation here is krill oil.