Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a skin condition that can cause itchiness, redness and inflammation of the skin. It's a common condition in both adults and children, though it often becomes less severe or goes away as a child gets older. The exact cause of atopic dermatitis isn't fully understood but researchers believe it may be caused by a number of factors including genetics, environment and immune system problems. While atopic dermatitis can be painful, the good news is that there are many treatments to help you manage your symptoms and live a healthy life!
What causes atopic dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. It is also called eczema, which means "to boil over." People of any age can develop atopic dermatitis, but it is most common in infants and young children. The average age at onset is five years old. Overall, up to 30 percent of people with atopic dermatitis have a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) who has the condition as well.
In general, the cause of eczema remains unknown; however, research suggests that both genetic and environmental factors play a role in its development.
- Your genetics. According to Cleveland Clinic, you’re more likely to have eczema if there is a history of dermatitis in your family. You’re also at a higher risk if there’s a history of asthma, hay fever and/or allergens. Allergens are substances like pollen, pet hair or foods that trigger an allergic reaction. Also, there might be a change in your genes that control a protein that helps your body maintain healthy skin. Without normal levels of that protein, your skin will not be completely healthy.
- Your environment. There is a lot in your environment that can irritate your skin. Some examples include exposure to tobacco smoke, air pollutants, harsh soaps, fabrics such as wool and some skin products. Low humidity (dry air) can cause your skin to become dry and itchy. Heat and high humidity can cause sweating and that can make the itchiness even worse.
Is atopic dermatitis contagious?
According to Healthline, the rashes that accompany eczema can leave your skin dry and cracked. In addition, eczema rashes are often itchy, causing you to scratch. All of this can leave small wounds in your skin that can become infected with:
- viruses, such as the herpes simplex virus
- bacteria, such as Staphylococcus
- fungi, such as Candida
According to the National Eczema Foundation, staph infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus are most common. This is because your skin’s surface naturally containsS. aureus, so it’s easy for it to enter cracks in your skin. If you have infected eczema, it’s possible to pass on the secondary infection to another person through close contact.
What are the symptoms of atopic dermatitis?
Mayo Clinic listed the different signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis (eczema). However, these vary widely from person to person.
- Dry skin
- Itching, which may be severe, especially at night
- Red to brownish-gray patches, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and in infants, the face and scalp
- Small, raised bumps, which may leak fluid and crust over when scratched
- Thickened, cracked, scaly skin
- Raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching
Who is affected by atopic dermatitis?
The prevalence of atopic dermatitis is higher in children and adolescents than adults, with an overall prevalence of 9% across all ages. Atopic dermatitis is more common in individuals with a family history of atopy (including asthma, hay fever, and eczema). For example, studies have shown that the prevalence of atopic dermatitis among children who are first-degree relatives (parents or siblings) ranges from 15% to 26%.
In addition, studies suggest that childhood exposure to allergens may be associated with increased risk for developing signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis later on in life.
How do I diagnose atopic dermatitis?
If you think you might have atopic dermatitis, the first step to diagnosis is to see your doctor. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and may perform a general physical examination to look for signs of the condition. They'll likely also recommend a skin exam, which can help them determine if there are any underlying causes of your atopic dermatitis.
Can I prevent atopic dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis is often a chronic condition. There is no cure for it, and the symptoms flare up from time to time. The most effective way to manage your atopic dermatitis is to avoid triggers and use moisturisers regularly. Many people find that their atopic dermatitis improves with time, especially if they have only had it for a short period of time.
In some cases, medications can help reduce the symptoms. If your doctor prescribes you any medication, make sure you follow the directions carefully as well as discuss any side effects or risks with them before taking them on your own without medical advice.
How is it treated?
There are a number of treatments available for atopic dermatitis. You may need to try different products or treatment methods to find what works best for you.
- Moisturizers and topical steroids: Moisturizers help keep the skin hydrated, while topical steroids reduce inflammation and itching. They're available in creams, ointments, lotions and other forms. The most common type of steroid cream is hydrocortisone.
- Avoid scratching:Scratching can cause bleeding beneath your skin that leads to infection or scarring. Try using a moisturizer before bedtime so that you don't have as much dryness during sleep; also try changing your pillowcase often as sweat can irritate the skin when it dries out during sleep time periods. You might also want to use gloves at night if this becomes an issue for you!
- Keep it clean: Wash your hands thoroughly with pHat 5.5 Seborrheic Dermatitis Wash after touching any part of your body where breakouts occur — especially between fingers and around fingernails because those areas are prone to picking off scabs and exposing fresh wounds beneath which means more chances for infection or scarring so keep things clean!
pHat 5.5 Seborrheic Dermatitis Wash is made from natural and organic ingredients, this gentle face and body wash is safe for all skin types. Keeps the pH balance of your skin maintaining the skin’s protective layer, the acid mantle, while it also addresses all types of dermatitis including seborrheic andatopic dermatitis. It has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe and relieve the symptoms of different skin conditions while it deeply hydrates your skin. Its gentle and non-irritating formula helps to achieve and maintain a healthy balance for your skin.
Atopic dermatitis affects one in 10 adults and one in five children worldwide. While there is no cure, the condition can be managed with lifestyle changes, medications and natural remedies. If you suspect that you or your child may have atopic dermatitis, speak with a medical professional to determine an appropriate treatment plan.