Atopic dermatitis, also referred to as eczema, is an itchy eruption of the skin. It’s a long-lasting (chronic) condition that may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever. Atopic dermatitis is most often seen in infants and children, but it can continue into adulthood or first appear later in life.

Although atopic dermatitis may affect virtually any area, it classically involves skin on the arms and behind the knees. It tends to flare periodically and then subside for a time, even up to several years. The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown, but it may result from a malfunction in the body’s immune system.

Even mild atopic dermatitis can be extremely itchy. Self-care measures, such as avoiding soaps or other irritants and applying creams or ointments, can help. See your doctor if your symptoms distract you from your daily routines or prevent you from sleeping.


Medical professionals sometimes refer to eczema as “the itch that rashes.”

  • Usually the first symptom of eczema is intense itching.
  • The rash appears later. It is patchy and starts out as flaky or scaly dry skin on top of reddened, inflamed skin.
  • The rash itches or burns.
  • If it is scratched, it may ooze and become crusty, especially in young children.
  • In adults, the patches are more likely to be brownish, scaly, and thickened.
  • Some people develop red bumps or clear fluid-filled bumps that look “bubbly” and, when scratched, add wetness to the overall appearance.
  • Painful cracks can develop over time.
  • The rash can be located anywhere on the body but is most often found on the face and on the arms and legs, particularly in creases and on hands and feet. This pattern makes sense because the face and extremities are in contact with external agents more than any other part of the body.
  • The itching may be so intense that it interferes with sleep.


The exact cause of eczema is not known. Although it is activated by the immune system and is related to allergic reactions, it is not the same as other allergic reactions. People with eczema do have the IgE antibodies (immunoglobulin E) produced by the immune system as part of allergic reactions.

  • Contact with the external trigger (allergen) causes the skin to become inflamed. The duration of the contact is not important. Eczema can develop on first contact (in days to weeks) or over time with repeated contact (in months to years).
  • Common triggers of eczema include the following:
  • Soaps
  • Detergents
  • Weather (hot, cold, humid, or dry)
  • Environmental allergens
  • Jewelry
  • Creams
  • Food handling
  • Clothing
  • Sweating
  • Gloves
  • Rubbing
  • Bacteria
  • Emotional or mental stress

Severe forms of eczema are caused by powerful allergic responses to external agents that cannot be eliminated from the environment.

Integrative Medicine Treatment Options

We combine the best of conventional medicine with the best of complementary and alternative therapies to give you optimal results.

Here are some options we use at Alliance Integrative Medicine LOCATED IN Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Acupuncture
  • Medication, Herbal Therapies and Supplements
  • Energy Healing
  • Mind/Body Relaxation Techniques

Our eczema patients come to us from Hyde Park, Loveland, Westchester/Liberty Township, Mason and Indian Hill as well as Reading, Springdale, Terrace Park, Blue Ash, Finneytown and from all over the United States.