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Can atopic dermatitis be prevented?

Without knowing specifically what causes atopic dermatitis, it cannot be prevented. However, with a proper diagnosis and a better understanding of what triggers your flare-ups, you may be able to manage the disease. This might be as simple as avoiding certain types of clothing, keeping your stress levels low, or even drying yourself off differently when you get out of the bath or shower. Using a good moisturizer and applying it correctly can go a long way as well.

Strictly speaking, atopic dermatitis is unpreventable, because it involves hereditary factors and difficult-to-control environmental triggers, such as pollen, dust mites, and in a some cases, foods like cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, and soy.  These sensitivities can be identified by allergy testing, but trying to avoid the trigger can be challenging, and it may not work to clear up atopic dermatitis.

That said, there might be ways to delay the onset or lessen the severity.  In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued recommendations on the effects of early nutritional interventions on atopic disease.  Their recommendations included: exclusive breastfeeding for at least 4 months; delaying food introduction until 4 to 6 months of age; and when formula is introduced, it should be hydrolyzed or elemental formula.

Most cases of atopic dermatitis can be well controlled by following the advice of your pediatrician or family doctor.  In difficult cases, it makes sense to seek the help of a dermatologist.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
There is no known way to prevent atopic dermatitis. However, you can take steps to keep the condition from flaring up. Atopic dermatitis is an inherited skin disorder. You are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis if your parents have had the condition or other atopic disorders (such as hay fever or asthma). Once you are diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, a doctor will help you identify environmental influences (such as specific foods, wool clothing, laundry detergents, or certain skin care products) that irritate your condition. Avoiding these irritants can help you manage atopic dermatitis. Your doctor can give you more information on managing atopic dermatitis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.