Atopic dermatitis, is a type of eczema, is a common skin condition characterized by red, itchy and dry skin which can sometimes become weeping, blistered, crusted, scaling and thickened. It occurs most frequently in children but can also affects adults. It is often the first step in the development of other atopic diseases.
In infants, it often starts as a dry red rash on the cheeks and around the mouth, often made worse by drooling. As the child grows, the rash may appear on the arms, legs, or in other areas where they are able to scratch. In older children, eczema is often on the inside of the elbows and knees, on the hands and feet, and around the eyes.
It is most likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The barrier function of the skin is damaged, the skin loses moisture more easily, becoming more dry, easily irritated, and hypersensitive. The skin is also more prone to infection (with bacteria, viruses, or fungi).
The most common types of atopic dermatitis include:
Infantile atopic dermatitis: This type affects babies and young children under the age of two. It is characterized by red, scaly patches on the face, scalp, and extremities.
Childhood atopic dermatitis: This type affects children between the ages of two and 12. It is characterized by red, itchy patches on the skin, particularly on the neck, face, and the insides of the elbows and knees.
Adolescent and adult atopic dermatitis: This type affects adolescents and adults and is characterized by dry, scaly patches on the skin, particularly on the hands, feet, and face.
Severe atopic dermatitis: This type is characterized by widespread and severe symptoms, including red, inflamed, and crusted skin that may weep or ooze.
Symptoms of the condition:
The specific clinical features of the condition can vary from person to person, but may include:
Red, dry, and scaly patches on the skin: These patches can be found on any part of the body, but are most commonly found on the face, neck, and the insides of the elbows and knees.
Itching: Atopic dermatitis is characterized by intense itching, which can lead to scratching and further skin irritation.
Rash: People with atopic dermatitis may develop a rash, which can be red and bumpy or have a blister-like appearance.
Thickened skin: With chronic scratching and rubbing, the skin may become thickened and leathery.
Cracks and fissures: The skin may crack and bleed, particularly in areas where the skin folds, such as the backs of the knees and the creases of the elbows.
Infections: People with atopic dermatitis may be more prone to bacterial and viral infections due to the breakdown of the skin’s barrier function.
What can trigger Atopic dermatitis rash?
Environmental factors: Exposure to certain irritants, such as chemicals, harsh soaps, and pollution, may trigger atopic dermatitis. Allergens, such as dust, mold, and pet dander, may also trigger the condition.
Stress: Stress can exacerbate atopic dermatitis symptoms and trigger flare-ups.
Infections: Certain infections, such as respiratory infections, may increase the risk of developing atopic dermatitis.
Changes in temperature: Cold, dry air or hot, humid conditions may trigger atopic dermatitis.
Sweating: Excessive sweating may trigger atopic dermatitis.
Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy or menopause, may trigger atopic dermatitis.
Certain medications: Some medications, such as antibiotics, may trigger atopic dermatitis.
Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis?
Management of the condition broadly divided into
- Reduction of the symptoms mainly itch free life.
- Reduce the chance of flare – ups.
- Maintaining the Moisture content of the skin.
Treatment for atopic dermatitis may vary depending on the severity of the condition, the age of the person, and the specific symptoms.
Topical medications: Topical corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, and antihistamines may be used to reduce inflammation and itching.
Moisturizers: Moisturizing the skin can help to reduce dryness and itching. It is important to use a fragrance-free moisturizer that is appropriate for sensitive skin.
Phototherapy: Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, involves exposing the skin to specific types of light to help reduce inflammation.
Oral medications: In some cases, oral medications, such as antihistamines or immunosuppressants, may be used to control symptoms.
Lifestyle changes: Making certain lifestyle changes, such as avoiding triggers, keeping the skin moisturized, and reducing stress, may help to manage atopic dermatitis.
Dos and Donts
Moisturize regularly: Moisturizing the skin can help to reduce dryness and itching. Use a fragrance-free moisturizer that is appropriate for sensitive skin.
Avoid irritants: Avoid exposure to irritants such as chemicals, harsh soaps, and pollution that may trigger atopic dermatitis.
Use lukewarm water: Hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils, so it is important to use lukewarm water when bathing.
Avoid scratching: Scratching can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse. Use a cool compress or apply a topical medication to help reduce itching.
Use a humidifier: Dry air can worsen atopic dermatitis, so using a humidifier can help to keep the air moist.
Don’t use harsh soaps: Avoid using harsh soaps and detergents that can strip the skin of its natural oils.
Don’t use fragranced products: Fragranced products, such as perfumes and scented lotions, can irritate the skin and trigger atopic dermatitis.
Don’t wear tight clothing: Tight clothing can rub against the skin and cause irritation.
Don’t scratch: Scratching can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse.
Don’t ignore the condition: It is important to manage atopic dermatitis to prevent it from getting worse and to reduce the risk of complications such as infections.