Atopic dermatitis causes skin inflammation, redness, and dry and itchy skin. It is actually a type of eczema that usually develops during childhood.
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition characterized by skin inflammation, dryness, itching, and flaking. It is a type of eczema, and sometimes, it can result from an exposure to certain irritants and allergens. Even the consumption of certain food can trigger an episode of atopic dermatitis. It is often found to occur along with some other atopic diseases like asthma and hay fever.
The condition usually develops during childhood. For some children, the condition can improve with time, but for others it can persist into adulthood. This skin condition is characterized by periodical flare-ups and remissions. Sometimes, it can subside for several years. The symptoms produced by this condition can vary from one individual to another.
It is more commonly observed in individuals with a family history of some kind of allergies, asthma, and hay fever. In fact, many children with atopic dermatitis have been found to develop asthma and hay fever later in their life. Both genetic and environmental factors seem to play an important role in the development of this skin condition. Factors like contact with an allergen, dry skin, sweating, exposure to dust, smoke, and irritants (like wool, detergents, and soaps), low humidity, emotional stress, and the consumption of certain food (eggs, soy, wheat) can exacerbate its symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
The condition can literally affect any part of the body. But areas like the hands, feet, ankles, wrist, face, neck, upper chest, the inside of the elbows, and the back of the knees have been observed to be more commonly affected by this condition. The signs and symptoms of this condition can sometimes resemble the symptoms of psoriasis. The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms that can be produced by this condition:
- Red or brown-colored inflamed rashes or patches on the skin
- Development of small, red-colored, raised or fluid-filled bumps on the affected area
- Severe itching
- Weeping blisters
- Crusting, which usually follows weeping
- Development of thickened and scaly skin due to continuous scratching of the affected area
People with atopic dermatitis are more prone to develop skin infections caused by the bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus. Moreover, the continuous scratching of the affected area can break the skin and leave open sores, which can become infected. This can further aggravate the symptoms.
Presently, there is no cure for this condition. Medications like corticosteroid creams and ointments are used to reduce the inflammation and itching. For severe itching, antihistamines are employed. If the symptoms are too severe to be controlled with topical ointments and antihistamines, then physicians may prescribe oral corticosteroids.
Sometimes, immunomodulators are also used to prevent or reduce the number of flare-ups. However, the long-term use of both corticosteroids and immunomodulators can cause several side effects. Apart from medications, light therapy or phototherapy is occasionally used to manage the symptoms. But the long-term use of light therapy can increase the risk of premature skin aging and skin cancer.
Along with medications, people suffering from this skin condition are usually advised to identify and avoid the factors that can trigger the flare-ups, and worsen the symptoms. At the same time, they should avoid the use of harsh commercial soaps, as these can dry out the skin and thus increase the severity of the symptoms. The skin should be kept well-moisturized by using a good quality moisturizer, as suggested by the physician. Also important is to avoid long and hot bath or showers. On the other hand, humidifier can be used to prevent the skin from drying out frequently.
All these measures can help lower the frequency and severity of the flare-ups to a great extent. For an effective management of atopic dermatitis, it is better to have a talk with your physician, and find out everything about this condition.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.