Has your doctor recently diagnosed you with atopic dermatitis? Maybe they prescribed a cream for you to apply, and perhaps they gave you some lifestyle changes you could make to help ease your symptoms and calm your skin. This is all very helpful, but atopic dermatitis is a complex condition, and you have a lot to learn as a new patient. Here are the basics to help you navigate this diagnosis and the subsequent treatments.
There are no lab tests for atopic dermatitis.
Atopic dermatitis is a diagnosis made based on observation of symptoms and on the ruling out of other conditions, like eczema. This explains why your dermatologist has not sent you for any tests, and why they may have told you that atopic dermatitis is the best explanation for your symptom — not the definite explanation. If you follow your doctor's recommendations and are not seeing results, then definitely let your doctor know. It is very common for atopic dermatitis to be misdiagnosed.
You need to use creams and washes consistently.
If your doctor prescribed you a cream or wash to use for your dermatitis, then make sure you use it consistently, and not only when your skin is acting up. Most of the creams prescribed for atopic dermatitis are intended to help tone down your body's immune response. Once they get a flare-up under control, they work to prevent future flare-ups. If you stop using the medication every time your skin clears up, then you will keep getting new flare-ups.
Atopic dermatitis is eczema.
The two conditions are one and the same. Eczema is just the conventional term for atopic dermatitis. So if you come across any advice or information for patients with eczema, that advice applies to you.
Lifestyle changes are important, too.
Using the prescription medication that your doctor sends you off with is important. But if you want your atopic dermatitis to really ease up, then you need to take the recommended lifestyle changes seriously, too. This includes using only mild, unscented products on your skin and to wash your clothes. You'll want to bathe in cool water, wear breathable clothing, and take steps to reduce your stress levels.
Being diagnosed with atopic dermatitis can be both relieving and confusing. You're happy to know what is wrong, but confused as to how, exactly, to handle it. Do not hesitate to bring your concerns to the attention of your doctor. They can provide atopic dermatitis resources to help you.