Referred to simply as “eczema” by many, atopic dermatitis is an inherited skin condition, often found in families where there is also hay fever, asthma and other allergies. It may appear as simply dry, itchy skin, or extensive, cracked, red areas. Much more than a nuisance, patients with atopic dermatitis are also more prone to bacterial and viral skin infections. Maintenance skin care can greatly reduce the flares of atopic dermatitis and it is critical to keep the skin hydrated, protected and free of irritation. Specific skin product selection is helpful, including soaps, laundry detergent, and moisturizers. Although topical corticosteroid creams (like cortisone)of varying strengths and formulations remain useful, there are newer medications which avoid long term exposure oft he skin to cortisone.