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How is atopic dermatitis (eczema) diagnosed?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
A doctor diagnoses atopic dermatitis by taking a complete medical history, examining the person, and asking about his or her symptoms. Skin affected by atopic dermatitis usually feels dry and very itchy. Atopic dermatitis also produces a skin rash, often on the face, feet, hands, behind the knees, or inside the elbows. The skin may develop folds or creases, too.

Because other conditions can cause these signs and symptoms, a doctor will consider other information before making a diagnosis of atopic dermatitis. In particular, he or she will ask if any of the person's relatives had atopic dermatitis, hay fever, or asthma. He or she will also try to determine if some trigger is causing skin changes and symptoms, such as a specific food or chemical irritant. To confirm the diagnosis of atopic dermatitis, a doctor may give an allergy test. If you have symptoms of atopic dermatitis, see a doctor.

Atopic dermatitis is usually diagnosed with a doctor's visit and a quick look at your family's medical history. Unfortunately, a test to confirm the diagnosis hasn't yet been created, so you may have to visit your doctor several times to get an accurate diagnosis. It may be necessary to get an evaluation from a skin or allergy specialist as well. Through a process of elimination your doctor may be able to pinpoint a few specific factors that exacerbate your condition, making it easier to manage in the future.

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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.