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Atopic Eczema
Atopic Eczema

Atopic Eczema


It is a dermatitis/Eczema on a background of atopy. Hence there is often a personal or family history of atopic disease (asthma, hay fever or atopic dermatitis).

Signs & symptoms


Diagnostic criteria

The clinical form may differ according to age:

Infantile eczema (“milk crust”)
• Usually appears at 3 months of age with oozing and crusting affecting the cheeks, forehead and scalp.

IMPORTANT: If generalized exfoliative dermatitis develops. Refer to a higher level facility for possible specialist care

Flexural eczema:

• Starts at 3–4 years,
• Affecting the flexural surfaces of elbows, knees and nape of the neck
• Thickening and lichenification
• Intense itching, particularly at night

Note: Eczema may evolve through acute (weepy), subacute (crusted lesions), and chronic (lichenified, scaly) forms




  • Non-Pharmacological treatment

    • Education and explanation
    • Remove any obvious precipitant e.g. skin irritants or allergens (avoid irritants e.g. medicated soap, wool and extremes of temperature).
    • Avoidance of irritants/allergens
    • Generous use of emulsifiers (skin moisturizers)
    • Bath oils/soap substitutes
  • Pharmacological

    • Promethazine (PO) 25mg at bedtime increased to 50mg if necessary


    • Cetirizine 10mg (PO) once daily


    • Loratadine 10mg (PO) once daily


    • Hydrocortisone 1% ointment 12 hourly (if mild disease, or on delicate skin surfaces)


    • Betamethasone valerate 0.025% cream/ointment 12 hourly for two weeks

    For severe cases

    • Adjunct therapies
    • Sedating antihistamines,
    • Occlusive bandaging and
    • Oral antibiotics
    • Short course of systemic steroid (eg Prednisolone) therapy

    Note: Never use topical antihistamines


    •Treat any infection (usually bacterial, but occasionally viral).
    •Choice of skin preparations depends on whether lesions are wet (exudative) or dry/lichenified (thickened skin with increased skin markings).

    oIf eczema is “weepy”, use saline baths or bathe in: Potassium permanganate 1:4000 (0.025%) solution once daily for 2-4 days until dry. Where large areas are involved give a course of antibiotics for 5-10 days (as for impetigo)

    oAfter the lesions have dried, apply an aqueous cream for a soothing effect. A topical corticosteroid cream may be useful in the acute phase. Use the mildest topical steroid application possible.
    •Start with mild topical steroid cream for wet lesions, and use ointment for dry skin lesions. Apply thinly, initially, two times a day.
    •If the skin starts scaling (condition becomes chronic), add/apply an emollient such as: emulsifying ointment or liquid paraffin.

    CAUTION: For lesions on the face use only 1% hydrocortisone cream, unless otherwise prescribed by a Specialist

    Note: Potent topical corticosteroids may cause harmful cutaneous and systemic side effects especially if the use is prolonged or involves extensive body surface. Striae, acne, hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation, hirsutism and atrophy may result. Therefore, avoid long term use; don’t use on weepy or infected skin. Advise patients NOT to use them as cosmetics (eg for skin lightening purposes)

    Example of Classes of Topical steroids;
    • Very Potent (0.05% clobetasol proprionate)
    • Potent (0.1% betamethasone valerate)
    • Diluted Potent (0.025% betamethasone valerate)
    • Moderately Potent (0.05% clobetasol buterate)
    • Mild (1% hydrocortisone)



Updated on,

3 Novemba 2020 12:21:46


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