Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis Characterized  by irritated, inflamed, itchy patches of skin, the diagnosis of atopic  dermatitis is often used interchangeably with the diagnosis of eczema.  Estimates suggest that between 10 to 20 percent of the world’s population  suffers from atopic dermatitis. Anyone with allergies, asthma, or a family  history of eczema-like conditions may have an increased risk of developing  atopic dermatitis. You cannot catch atopic dermatitis from someone else.

Causes   Thought  of as a skin allergy or sensitivity, atopic dermatitis has no specific cause.  Atopic dermatitis is related to how your immune system responds to contact with  germs and allergens. Genetics and environmental factors seem to play a role in  the development of atopic dermatitis. Certain things can trigger a flare up of  the condition including climate, temperature, irritants, stress and infection.  Most cases of atopic dermatitis develop during the first year of life, and many  resolve themselves by 18 to 24 months. Some people live with constant cycles of  remission and recurrence throughout their lifetime.

Symptoms   With  atopic dermatitis, the skin typically develops itchy patches and inflammation  that leads to swelling, redness, cracking, crusting, weeping and scaling.  Usually atopic dermatitis appears on the face, wrists, hands, folds of the arms  and the back of the knees. The itchiness and inflammation often cause  scratching which worsens the condition of the skin.

Treatments   Although  no cure exists for atopic dermatitis, various therapies can help manage the symptoms.  Often doctors recommend moisturizers to reduce dryness, antihistamines to  reduce itching, corticosteroids to control inflammation and immune modulators  to suppress the skin’s reaction. If a secondary infection develops because of  cracking or scratching, your physician will prescribe a topical or oral  medication to resolve the issue.

Prevention   Following  these tips can help reduce symptoms and manage atopic dermatitis:

  • Avoid known triggers
  • Bath in lukewarm water
  • Choose light-weight cotton clothing
  • Frequently apply moisturizers to skin
  • Keep fingernails short
  • Stay cool
  • Wear hand mitts while you sleep
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