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Current atopic dermatitis treatment options include topical steroids (for short-term use only), topical immunodulators (such as Elidel), oral medications (such as corticosteroids and antihistamines), and ultraviolet light therapy. The goals of treatment, regardless of the method used, are to heal the skin and prevent flareups. Atopic dermatitis treatment is most effective when the patient, family members, and doctor all work together.

An Introduction to Atopic Dermatitis Treatment

The goals of atopic dermatitis treatment are to heal the skin and prevent flareups. Current treatment options include:
  • Topical steroids
  • Topical immunomodulators
  • Oral medications
  • Ultraviolet light therapy.

Topical Steroids as an Atopic Dermatitis Treatment

For the past several years, doctors have been prescribing topical corticosteroids as an atopic dermatitis treatment. Although topical steroids are effective in treating the condition, they can only be used for a short period of time. Long-term use of steroids can lead to:
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Stretch marks
  • Spider veins
  • Growth retardation (in children).

Topical Immunomodulators as an Atopic Dermatitis Treatment

Topical immunomodulators include Elidel® (pimecrolimus) and Protopic® (tacrolimus). These types of atopic dermatitis treatment help to control inflammation by reducing the immune system's reactions in the skin. This topical treatment can be used in patients above the age of 2, and it does not cause the side effects that are associated with steroid use. Side effects include a temporary feeling of warmth or burning on the skin.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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