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Today in Health & Wellness

Atopic Dermatitis

Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult

Atopic dermatitis is the chronic itchy inflammation of the skin that may occur with asthma or hay fever. The cause is unknown but may be due to the inherited tendencies of sensitive skin and malfunction in the body's immune system. It typically starts in childhood and may persist into adulthood and occurs in periods of flares and remissions.

Atopic dermatitis is used interchangeably with eczema. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, a term used for many types of skin problems.

The other types of eczema include:

  • Allergic contact eczema
  • Contact eczema
  • Dyshidrotic eczema
  • Neurodermatitis
  • Nummular eczema
  • Seborrheic eczema
  • Stasis dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis' severity is classified according to its impact on the quality of life and psychosocial wellbeing: Mild when it does not impact everyday activities, sleep, and psychosocial well-being; Moderate when there is moderate impact on everyday activities, frequently disturbed sleep and psychosocial well-being; and Severe when there is nightly loss of sleep and everyday activities and psychosocial functions are limited.

  • Dry and itchy skin. Itching often worsens at night.
  • Red to brownish-gray colored patches. These patches may be found anywhere in the body but most often appear on the hands and feet, behind the knees, inside the elbow, face and neck.
  • Small, raised bumps that leak clear fluid and crust over when scratched
  • Thickened, cracked or scaly skin
Risk Factors
  • Most common in children and babies
  • History of dermatitis, dry skin in the last 12 months, asthma or allergic rhinitis

Complications of atopic dermatitis

  • Neurodermatitis. This occurs when frequent scratching causes the skin's texture to be thick and leather-like. The areas affected by neurodermatitis become raw, red, or darker in color compared to the rest of the body.
  • Skin infections. Breaking of the skin due to scratching can lead to open sores and fissures and become infected. Impetigo is a milder form of this infection.
  • Eye complications. Severe atopic dermatitis can cause eye complications and ultimately permanent eye damage. Inflammation of the lining of the eyelid (conjunctivitis) and eyelid (blepharitis) are signs of eye complication.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
  • Emollients unperfumed emollients should be used every day for washing, bathing, and moisturizing.
  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Calcineurin inhibitors (Immunomodulators)
  • Bandages
  • Antibiotics may be needed for skin that has become infected
  • Oral antihistamines help stop night time scratching

Non-drug treatments

  • Phototherapy
  • Systemic therapy
Treatment and Management

Treatment should be tailored to the needs of the patient, depending on severity:

  • Refrain from scratching since it causes further redness, swelling, cracking, crusting, thick skin, scaling, and inflammation. Scratching may also result to infection by bacteria (e.g. Staphylococcus aureus) that commonly live on the skin.
  • Avoid using contact allergens such as soaps or other irritants like wool or manmade fibers; perfumes and makeup; substances such as chlorine, mineral oil, or solvents; dust or sand; and cigarette smoke.
  • Avoid exposure to food and inhalant allergens such as eggs, peanuts, milk, fish, soy products, and wheat; dust mites; mold; pollen; and dog or cat dander
  • Treat symptoms when they occur. Apply creams or ointments that relieve itching.
  • Develop a good skin care routine
  • Avoid the appearance of flares by making sure that the skin is moisturized. Refrain from taking a long or hot bath and showers since water can strip the skin of its natural moisture.
  • Consult a doctor if symptoms hinder you from your daily routines or prevent you from sleeping
Home Remedies
  • Identify what triggers the inflammation and avoid them
  • Calamine lotion or any anti-itch cream should be applied to the affected area
  • Avoid scratching the skin. Wearing gloves at night and trimming the nails can prevent unconscious scratching.
  • Make sure to always moisturize the skin
  • Use mild soaps and detergents
  • Take a warm bath using natural ingredients: baking soda, uncooked oatmeal, and/or bleach (1/2 cup to 40 gallons of water). Diluted bleach bath is believed to kill bacteria growing in the skin.
  • Use a portable humidifier. Skin itching and flaking worsen in hot, dry air.
  • Wear clothing that is cool and smooth-textured to prevent irritation of the skin.
  • Oils such as chamomile, evening-primrose oil, witch hazel extract and borage seed oil have are believed to help alleviate the symptoms of atopic dermatitis
Doctors to Consult
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