Eczema/atopic Dermatitis

Eczema/atopic Dermatitis is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Atopic dermatitis is the most common cause of eczema and the terms are often used synonymously.
    • Associated with allergic diseases such as asthma and allergic rhinitis
  • Eczema literally means “out boil” and refers to spongiosis, the process where microvesicles form and rupture, leaving erythema, edema, crusting, and oozing
  • Pruritus is highly characteristic
    • Patient rub and scratch skin breakdown with oozing and crusting
    • Chronically this causes epidermal hyperplasia and hyperkeratosis
  • 90% of patients colonize with Staphylococcus aureus, and are prone to episodes of superinfection

Risk Factors

  • Family history of atopy (asthma, allergic rhinitis) typical
  • Mutation of the filaggrin protein, part of the epidermal barrier, is strongly associated


Atopic dermatitis is caused by a deficit in epidermal integrity that allows foreign substances to enter and trigger immune responses.

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