Eczema aka Atopic Dermatitis or Atopic Eczema

Eczema, atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema is defined as a skin condition that is itchy, symmetrical and associated with a personal family history of allergic manifestations.


There are 5 to 25 cases of eczema for every 1000 people.  Its highest incidence occurs in children (5-10%) and accounts for 4% of acute care pediatric visits, and the onset of eczema occurs before 5 years of age in 85% of the pediatric patients.  Interestingly, more than 50% of children with eczema develop asthma and a runny nose due to allergies by 13 years of age.


Unfortunately, the cause of eczema is unknown.


The signs and symptoms of eczema, atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema may include:

  • There are no specific symptoms, instead there is a wide spectrum of clinical presentations
  • Severe itching with repeated scratching that modifies the skin surface and results in dry, scaly and red skin, and sometimes discolouration, thickening, blistering and oozing of the involved area
  • Typically located on bends of elbows and knees (symmetrical on both sides), neck and upper trunk
  • Papular lesions are frequently found on bends of the elbows and knees
  • In adults, redness and scaling on the backs of the hands or around the fingers with possible oozing and crusting


Be aware that the following complications may arise:

  • Secondary skin infection


The diagnostic assessment tools used to diagnose eczema are:

  • The presence of at least 3 of the following major features and 3 of the following minor features:
    • Major Features:
      • Personal or family history of atopy (allergic hypersensitivity) such as eczema, runny nose due to allergies or asthma
      • Itchiness
      • Involvement of the face and the backs of the arms or legs in infants and children
      • Lichenification (thickening of the skin with accentuated skin markings) on the bends of the elbows and knees in adults
    • Minor Features:
      • Early age of onset − after 2 months of age
      • Eczema-perifollicular accentuation
      • Ichthyosis (dry, thickened, scaly or flaky skin)
      • Staphylococcus auerus or Herpes simplex infection of the skin
      • White dermagraphism (the skin becomes raised and inflamed when rubbed or stroked with a dull object)
      • High IgE
      • Food intolerance
      • Wool intolerance
      • Pale or red complexion
      • Recurrent conjunctivitis (aka pink eye; the inflammation of the conjunctiva)
      • Chelitis (inflammation of the lips)
      • Nipple dermatitis
      • Hand dermatitis


From a Naturopathic standpoint, Dr. Moira Kwok ND will obtain a very thorough medical history in order to put all of your "puzzle pieces" together to form a whole picture of everything that is going on from a health perspective.  From this holistic approach to treatment, she will put together an individualized treatment plan based on a combination of dietary and lifestyle recommendations, supplements, botanicals, acupuncture and/or IV therapy that is based on your specific case.



  • Beers MH & Berkow R (Editors).  1999.  The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy (17th Ed.).  Merck Research Laboratories: Whitehouse Station, NJ.
  • Ferri FF.  2007.  Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment.  Mosby Elsevier: Philadelphia, PA.