Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common chronic, relapsing skin disorder affecting infants and children. Patients with AD may go on to develop asthma or allergies, and the condition can place financial burdens on the patient's family.

In a supplement to the October 2008 issue of Dermatology Nursing, Noreen Heer Nicol and Mark Boguniewicz describe how to successfully manage atopic dermatitis. They review a treatment model developed and used at the Atopic Dermatitis Program (ADP) at National Jewish Health in Denver, CO for more than 20 years.

An inflammatory skin disease, AD symptoms include itchy skin, a compromised immune system and sensitivity to irritants and allergens, with itching being the primary symptom. AD usually appears on the cheeks or scalp, as well as the neck, wrists, ankles and creases between the thighs and buttocks. Most children outgrow AD, but many have persistent dry skin and others may experience symptoms into adulthood.

Nicol and Boguniewicz report that managing AD requires a multi-pronged approach that includes an diagnosing the condition accurately, educating patients on daily skin care, identifying and limiting AD flare factors and irritants, controlling itchiness and infections, and incorporating skin hydration and pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapies. The multidisciplinary ADP team at National Jewish Health works to individualize care for each patient by teaching patients skills to self-monitor and manage their disease, say the authors.

The authors say patient education is key and by them teaching proper daily skin care (hydration, cleansing, and moisturizing), they have a much better chance of successful treatment. (Successful Strategies in Atopic Dermatitis Management; Noreen Heer Nicol, MS, RN, FNP; Mark Boguniewicz, MD; Dermatology Nursing Supplement; October 2008; http://www.dermatologynursing.net)

Dermatology Nursing is the official journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association (DNA). The journal is nursing's premier skin care resource and contains state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed articles on all aspects of skin and wound care.

Dermatology Nursing