Continuing Medical Education

Diagnosis of atopic dermatitis: From bedside to laboratory

W Sinclair, J Aboobaker, R J Green, M E Levin


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is essentially diagnosed clinically. In babies and young children, the diagnosis is usually straightforward. Dry, very pruritic dermatitis starts on the cheeks, with the neck and trunk often involved, but the nappy area spared. Limb involvement follows later – first extensoral, later classically flexural. This is mostly the picture of AD. In adults, the presentation may vary widely. Classic flexural dermatitis may persist, but erythroderma (whole-body involvement), head and neck dermatitis, isolated hand dermatitis and nummular dermatitis may be more difficult to identify as AD.


Authors' affiliations

W Sinclair, Department of Dermatology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

J Aboobaker, Department of Dermatology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

R J Green, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

M E Levin, Division of Asthma and Allergy, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town and Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

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Atopic dermatitis; Diagnosis

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2014;104(10):711. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8850

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-08-22
Date published: 2014-08-22

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