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Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis

Everything you need to know about
Eczema Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic skin condition marked by dry, irritated, and itchy skin areas. The actual causation of AD is unknown. One possibility could be an immune system overproduction of cells that induce inflammation.

AD usually begins in childhood and flares up on a regular basis. People with AD frequently scratch the afflicted area during flare-ups. Scratching might aggravate symptoms by causing more skin inflammation.

There is currently no cure for AD. Avoiding triggers, making lifestyle adjustments, and taking drugs to relieve symptoms are all part of treatment.

Continue reading to discover more about AD, including its symptoms, causes, treatments, and probable complications.

Atopic dermatitis vs. eczema

Eczema is a term that refers to a range of skin disorders that including AD. Atopic disorders are diseases induced by allergic reactions and are referred to as “dermatitis.”

AD is classified as an atopic disease in the same way as:

  • Allergies to foods
  • Allergies
  • Asthma

Atopic dermatitis has several symptoms

Dry, itchy skin is the most common symptom of AD, which commonly transforms into a red rash during flare-ups.

Eczema flare-ups can be triggered by a variety of external and internal reasons. Increased blood flow and the desire to scratch occur from the irritation.

Eczema flare-ups are a painful aspect of the itch-scratch cycle. Fighting the physical and psychological aspects that fuel this cycle is difficult. Scratching may feel wonderful at the time, but it can cause more inflammation and even infection.

Symptoms of AD vary based on a person’s age.

Symptoms in Babies

Babies may have the following symptoms:

  • Scaly, dry, itchy skin
  • A rash on the cheeks or on the scalp
  • A rash that may bubble and ooze clear liquid

Due to itching skin, infants with these symptoms may have difficulty sleeping. Scratching by infants with AD can lead to skin infections.

Symptoms in Children

Children may have the following symptoms:

  • A rash in the elbow or knee creases, or both
  • Scaly areas of skin at the rash’s location
  • Skin patches that have lightened or darkened
  • Leathery, thick skin
  • Skin that is exceedingly dry and scaly
  • Neck and face rashes, especially around the eyes

Symptoms in Adults

Adults with AD have severely dry, scaly skin. According to a poll conducted by the Eczema Society of Canada in 2021, 71% of patients with moderate or severe AD ranked their itch as a 7 or higher.

Adults acquire AD in different places than children. Areas commonly affected include:

  • The insides of the knees
  • Elbows in the crooks
  • The nape of the neck
  • On the face

Adults are also more prone to experience eye complaints.

Adults with AD may have discoloured or leathery areas on their skin that are readily irritated. Some individuals who experienced AD as a child may not show symptoms again until later in life.

Atopic Dermatitis Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects you have atopic dermatitis, they’ll begin by asking you questions about your medical history and performing a physical examination. A skin patch allergy test may also be recommended.

This type of test can assist you and your doctor in determining whether your rashes are caused by an allergy to something you touch. For a few days, you wear skin patches that contain little amounts of items you might be allergic to. Your doctor will check for a rash around any of the patches two days after you remove them. Find out more about atopic dermatitis diagnosis.

Causes

The actual causation of Atopic Dermatitis is unknown. Because AD is not contagious, you cannot spread the rash to others.

Inflammation is thought to be the result of a misdirected immunological response in Atopic Dermatitis. This immune response generates an overabundance of inflammatory cells in your skin, which are responsible for many of the symptoms of AD.

Because of the compromised skin barrier, people with Atopic Dermatitis have dry skin. Water loss and irritant infiltration are more common in AD skin. All of this results in the appearance of red, itchy rashes.

The following are some common lifestyle and environmental causes for AD flare-ups:

  • Baths or long, steamy showers
  • Scratching
  • Sweat
  • Heat
  • A chilly, dry climate
  • Detergents, soaps, and cleansers
  • Fabrics made of wool and synthetics
  • Irritants physical (dirt, sand, smoke)
  • Allergens (pollen, dander, dust)
  • Vigorous activity
  • Stress

Complications

Cracked and fractured skin from AD puts you in danger of bacterial or viral infections, especially if you scratch the affected regions.

Some infections are dangerous, such as the viral illness eczema herpeticum. The following are symptoms of this condition:

  • Painful eczema that rapidly worsens
  • Feverish, shaking, or feeling generally poorly
  • Fluid-filled blisters that burst and leave open sores

If you suspect you have eczema herpeticum, you should consult a doctor very away.

If they are self-conscious about their skin, some people with AD may have low self-esteem. If itching is severe, AD can cause poor sleep quality, which can affect mood, concentration, and behaviour.

When to call a doctor

Your initial diagnosis should be obtained from a primary care physician or a dermatologist. A physician can assist you in developing an effective treatment plan and identifying your triggers.

If AD is hurting your life, you should consult a doctor to design a treatment strategy.

In addition, if you see any indicators of a skin infection, such as:

  • Around the rash, there may be discomfort, swelling, tenderness, or heat.
  • Extended red streaks from the rash
  • Skin discharge
  • Fever

Treatment

There is no known cure for AD. It’s critical to find the correct remedy to alleviate itching and discomfort. Reduced itching decreases stress and aids in the prevention of skin infections caused by excessive scratching.

Home remedies and adjustments in skincare routines are among the treatment possibilities, as are over-the-counter (OTC) skincare products and prescription drugs.

It can be tough to resist the want to scratch, but resisting the urge can only make the affected area worse.

Home remedies

Moisturize your skin as a preventative precaution. This increases the skin barrier’s function. Healthy skin is less likely to develop inflamed, and it acts as a better barrier against allergens and irritants.

The simplest technique to hydrate your skin is to bathe and moisturise every day. It’s critical to use an emollient moisturiser as soon as possible after washing. Emollients coat your skin in a protective layer that holds moisture.

OTC treatment

Tylenol or ibuprofen are pain medications that might help you manage your discomfort and inflammation.

Antihistamines can assist with itching, and some antihistamines also contain sedatives that can help you sleep. The following are some antihistamines that may be used to treat AD:

  • Cetirizine
  • Chlorpheniramine
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Doxylamine
  • Fexofenadine
  • Loratadine

Hydrocortisone and other topical corticosteroids can help relieve inflammation and itching. They can take the following forms:

  • Gels
  • Creams
  • Lotions
  • Ointments

To avoid side effects, don’t exceed the dosage specified on the label or as prescribed by a medical practitioner.

Medical treatment

To assist you manage inflammation and itching, your doctor may prescribe stronger corticosteroids than those available over-the-counter.

Your doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids for 5 to 7 days in exceptional circumstances. These pills have a higher risk of side effects and should be avoided.

To keep your skin moist and avoid irritation, your doctor may prescribe medicated bandages or wet wraps to place over problematic areas.

Who is at risk for atopic dermatitis?

The United Kingdom (UK) has a high prevalence of atopic dermatitis, which affects 11-20% of children and 5-10% of adults. In the United Kingdom, about 2% of all instances of childhood AD are severe. Despite this, the majority of AD treatments are carried out at home, with little interaction with healthcare practitioners or agencies.

There appears to be a genetic component to AD. Changes to the filaggrin gene have been associated as a risk factor for AD in people who have a family member who has the disease.

Other atopic disorders, such as allergies or asthma, are more common in people with AD.

Is it possible to prevent atopic dermatitis?

It’s unclear why some people develop AD, and there’s currently no method to prevent it. However, keeping your skin moisturised and learning what triggers an AD flare-up might help you manage your symptoms.

Stress and certain dietary sensitivities are common triggers. Food allergies include the following:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Seafood
  • Soy

Irritating substances that come into contact with your skin can further exacerbate your symptoms. Among the most common irritants are:

  • Wool
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Sand or dust
  • Detergents, soaps, and cleaning materials
  • Artificial fibres

Outlook

You can lessen the frequency and severity of your AD flare-ups by recognising your triggers and taking good care of your skin. Even if your first treatment plan fails, you can attempt a variety of other options. You and your doctor can collaborate to determine the right combination for you and your skin.

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