What is Atopic Dermatitis?
Atopic Dermatitis is a skin condition commonly seen in new born and young kids, though, it may also present in adulthood. Atopic Dermatitis is commonly known as eczema. Now eczema is something we have all heard of.
In atopic dermatitis your skin gets dry and itchy, and gets easily irritated. If you have a complain of a persistent skin rash, it is advisable to rule out atopic dermatitis.
What causes eczema?
The real cause of eczema/atopic dermatitis is not known. However, it is believed that people with a family history of allergies such as asthma or allergic rhinitis (hay fever) are more likely to have this condition. This condition is not contagious. Immune differences and skin susceptibility may also contribute to it.
Other reasons believed to contribute to eczema may be:
- Body products such as soaps and perfumes
- Airborne allergy-triggers such as pollen, mould spores, dust mites and animal hair can also cause outbreaks of atopic dermatitis
What does atopic dermatitis condition look like?
The skin will be dry and itchy with a persistent skin rash. This rash may become red and sore. Sometimes these areas may even get blistered and infected. It is mostly seen in kneww folds and elbows.
You may notice that the affected area flares-up periodically and then settles again. How severe the flare-up is or how long it takes to settle is not definite and may vary not only between individuals but also between episodes in the same individual. If the flare-up is mild, you may observe just one or two small patches of inflammation for a short duration whereas if it is severe, the inflammation may last several weeks and may be seen on larger areas of the skin.
This is very typical of atopic dermatitis.
Is there a cure for atopic dermatitis?
There is no “cure” for atopic dermatitis in the real sense. However, there are several medicines and preparations that will help control outbreaks and provide relief of symptoms, but there is no single effective treatment. Your doctor will be able to discuss the various options with you.
Treatment for eczema?
Eczema can be controlled with the help of:
- Emollients. Eczema reduces the ability of the skin to hold moisture. Emollients (moisturizers) can prevent and soothe dry skin and irritated skin. Hence keeping the skin moisturized plays an important role in the treatment for eczema. Apply moisturizers as often as needed. Usually thick, greasy ointments work better and have a long-lasting effect over thin creams. You cannot “overdose” on emollients, so always be generous with its application.
One common mistake we notice is people stop using moisturizers when the condition improves. It is advisable to continue using to avoid flare-ups.
- Topical steroids. Steroids help control and reduce inflammation. They are applied directly on to the affected area to control inflammation when the eczema flares up.
Another mistake we notice is people stop using moisturizers when on topical steroids. It is advisable to continue using moisturizers.
What are the do’s and don’ts in regular care for eczema?
- Use mild soaps while bathing or none at all. Don’t stay in the bath or shower too long; use warm (not hot) water. Put on an emollient immediately afterwards, while your skin is still damp.
- Avoid wearing clothes made of scratchy materials like wool. Instead, wear cotton clothes. Some smooth man-made fabrics are probably just as good as cotton.
- Although food allergy is rarely a cause of atopic dermatitis, certain foods might worsen your rash. If you notice that happening, you may want to avoid those foods.
- Try as much as possible not to scratch the affected skin. To help with this, keep nails short. Use anti-scratch mittens in babies with eczema.
- Avoid extreme temperatures as these can irritate the skin.
In a nutshell, preventing flare-ups with good skin care is an important part of the overall treatment of atopic dermatitis.
If you have dry, itchy and irritated skin and would like to consult, please do contact us.