Eczema (Dermatitis) FAQs

Q: My child has sensitive skin and gets rashes easily with bubble baths and wool clothing. What can I do to prevent this?

A: Your child may have mild atopic dermatitis. It occurs most frequently in families with a history of eczema, allergies, and asthma. This disorder is characterized by dry, sensitive, itchy skin. Mild soaps, cotton clothing, and moisturizers help minimize flare-ups. In severe cases, prescription medications may be necessary.

Q: I was diagnosed with poison ivy, although I have not been exposed for at least 2 weeks. Is this possible?

A: Yes. It can take up to 3 weeks after exposure for the typical allergic reaction to poison ivy to appear.

Q: I was treated for severe poison oak with prednisone for a week. When I stopped, the rash and itching returned. What went wrong?

A: The allergic reaction that follows contact with poison oak, ivy, or sumac can last up to 3 weeks, despite bathing and laundering the contaminated clothing. For severe outbreaks, oral corticosteroids are prescribed. Treatment may need to continue for 3 weeks, until the body's internal reaction has subsided.

Q: My child has atopic dermatitis. Should he avoid certain foods?

A: Food allergies have been linked to atopic dermatitis in only about 10 percent to 15 percent of cases. The most common sensitivities are to eggs, milk, soy, wheat, nuts, and fish. If you suspect a food allergy, your pediatrician or dermatologist can help you eliminate various items from your child's diet to confirm your suspicion. Allergy tests are infrequently done.

Q: My seborrheic dermatitis flares up when I am under stress. Is this common?

A: Yes, some people experience flare-ups during stressful times. In addition to getting adequate rest and nutrition, you may want to switch to dandruff shampoos and use a prescribed antifungal cream. Mild cortisone creams help minimize the flare-ups but should not be used for long periods of time.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Aug 2000

Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015