Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis

Eczema is a very common, often chronic skin disease that affects a large percentage of people. It is also called atopic dermatitis, or atopy. Most commonly, it can be thought of as a type of skin allergy or sensitivity.

Young girl outside in a fieldAlthough atopic dermatitis can occur at any age, most often it affects infants and young children. It commonly remains a life-long condition associated with significant distress and complications, and it often progresses into other diseases. This progression is sometimes referred to as “atopic march” which may last into adulthood or show up later in life. The “atopic march” predicts that patients with a strong allergic component to their atopic dermatitis will typically develop some or all of the following conditions:

  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Sore throats
  • Wheezing episodes with viral infections
  • Asthma
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Nasal polyps

Identifying allergies in the context of atopic dermatitis is important not only for treating atopic dermatitis, but early treatment with sublingual immunotherapy has been proven to stop the atopic march. Asthma, in particular, responds especially well to sublingual immunotherapy, and asthma’s development in many children can be prevented if immunotherapy begins based on evaluation for atopic dermatitis.

Controlled studies have shown that allergic children treated with sublingual immunotherapy had a significantly lower risk of developing asthma than children who were not treated at all with sublingual immunotherapy. Airborne and food allergies are typically at the root of the problem, and their contribution to allergic inflammation can be blocked and even reversed when sublingual immunotherapy starts at an early age.