How is atopic dermatitis (eczema) distinguished from other causes of dermatitis?

Updated: Apr 26, 2021
  • Author: Brian S Kim, MD, MTR, FAAD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Atopic dermatitis (AD) is indistinguishable from other causes of dermatitis. In infancy, the most common difficulty is distinguishing it from seborrheic dermatitis (SD). This entity is not seen with the same frequency as a decade ago. Both AD and SD are associated with cradle cap (a retention hyperkeratosis) found on the vertex of the scalp, which is greasy and yellow in individuals with SD and dry and crusted in individuals with AD. Other areas of involvement in SD are the intertriginous areas and diaper area; erythema and a greasy scale can be seen over the eyebrows and the sides of the nose. In AD, xerosis of the skin and pruritus occur, which are not usually features of SD. Both conditions should be distinguished from psoriasis.

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