Atopic Dermatitis: The First Step in the Allergic March

Allergy doctors use the terms “Allergic March” or “Atopic March” to describe the common progression of allergic diseases throughout a patient’s lifetime. Quite often, patients are first diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, or eczema, early in childhood. This condition refers to an allergic inflammatory condition of the skin. It is referred to as an atopic disease because it typically affects individuals with a personal or family history of hay fever or asthma.



Patients with atopic dermatitis typically develop a dry red, itchy, scaly rash that usually appears behind the elbows and knees. However, when the disease develops in infancy, the child may have tiny bumps on his or her cheeks. The dry, scaly skin tends to itch intensely. When patients engage in prolonged scratching or rubbing, the skin may become thicker than usual. Intense scratching can also lead to the development of crusted sores or weeping lesions.


The intensity of this allergic disease tends to wax and wane periodically. Certain triggers can lead to a flare-up of symptoms. These triggers commonly include sweating, overheating, emotional stress, and consumption of certain foods in those that have food allergy. Exposure to irritants or allergens is another possible trigger.


An allergy doctor can develop an effective management plan for patients with atopic dermatitis. It’s advisable to identify a patient’s triggers and to avoid them whenever possible. Additionally, antihistamines may be taken to alleviate the itchiness. Topical steroids or non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications can relieve the inflammation of the skin.


In addition to preventing exposure to triggers, atopic dermatitis may be managed with lifestyle modifications. Allergy doctors recommend taking lukewarm baths, since hot water removes natural oils from the skin. Moisturizer should be applied daily within minutes of bathing. Patients should wear 100% cotton soft fabrics, and try to avoid fabric softeners, bleach and excessive sweating.

Fellowship-trained, board-certified allergists/immunologists comprise the entire physician staff of Allergy & Asthma Specialists. Allergy doctors at this premier medical practice provide comprehensive allergy and asthma diagnostics and state of the art treatment, including two types of immunotherapy, at offices located in center city Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Schedule today online at or by calling 1-800-86COUGH option 2.