This article was supported through an
unrestricted grant from Sanofi Genzyme.


Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as eczema or atopic eczema, is a chronic, relapsing, inflammatory skin condition. It is characterised by xerosis (dry skin) and pruritus (itchy skin). Genetic and environmental factors combine to present the signs and symptoms of AD.

Learning objectives

After reading this article, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Describe the pathophysiology of atopic dermatitis (AD)
  • Explain the impact of AD on patients and strategies to manage the disease
  • Discuss the pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for AD
  • Discuss the role of the pharmacist in supporting patients with atopic dermatitis.

Competencies (2016) addressed: 1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.4, 3.1, 3.2, 3.5.

Accreditation number: CAP1903F

Case study

Teresa is 36, with lifelong atopic dermatitis (AD). She has been using moisturisers and topical corticosteroids for many years. Her AD typically worsens during pregnancy, requiring phototherapy with narrow band UV-B to help control her condition. She follows the classic flare and remission pattern of AD. However, it never completely clears between flare-ups.

In the last 18 months her AD has generally worsened. She is having more frequent, more severe and more prolonged outbreaks with no obvious precipitant. Her skin severity Physician Global Assessment (PGA) score was 4 and her Eczema Severity and Area Involved (EASI) score was 25.0, indicating that her AD is severe. Her Dermatology Quality of Life (DLQI) score was 15, highlighting that AD has a profound impact on her activities of daily living.

Test your knowledge on this article’s assessment questions here to earn up to 1.5 Group 2 CPD credits.