No lab test is needed to identify atopic dermatitis (eczema). Your doctor will likely make a diagnosis by examining your skin and reviewing your medical history. He or she may also use patch testing or other tests to rule out other skin diseases or identify conditions that accompany eczema. If you suspect a certain food caused your child's rash, tell the doctor and ask about identifying potential food allergies. Atopic dermatitis can be persistent. You may need to try various treatments over months or years to control it. And even if treatment is successful, signs and symptoms may return (flare). It's important to recognize the condition early so that you can start treatment. If regular moisturizing and other self-care steps don't help. Your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid cream or ointment. Apply it as directed, after you moisturize. Overuse of this drug may cause side effects, including thinning skin. Other creams containing drugs called calcineurin inhibitors — such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel) — affect your immune system. They are used by people older than age 2 to help control the skin reaction. Apply it as directed, after you moisturize. Avoid strong sunlight when using these products. These drugs have a black box warning about the potential risk of cancer. But the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has concluded that the risk-to-benefit ratios of topical pimecrolimus and tacrolimus are similar to those of most other conventional treatments of persistent eczema and that the data don't support the use of the black box warning.
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