Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a skin condition chronic and hereditary characterized by the appearance of scaly eruptions, irritation, redness, dryness, intense itching, and other symptoms. It is a skin disorder that is more common in children under two years of age, and that can disappear with the passage of time or, conversely, remain until adulthood. It usually manifests itself as outbreaks or intermittent episodes. To keep it under control and prevent them from worsening, it is essential to avoid agents that are irritating to the skin, follow a specific treatment, and, above all, give special dermis care. In this FastlyHealarticle, we show in detail they are symptoms, causes, and treatment of atopic dermatitis.
Symptoms of atopic dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis or eczema most often affects infants and children younger than two years of age but can also be suffered to persist more late period and even into adulthood. People who suffer from it have skin that lacks moisturizing components such as amino acids, and the formation of lipids is not carried out correctly. All this makes the skin structure weaker and increases the risk of infection when scratching with the nails.
The symptoms of atopic dermatitis vary considerably from one patient to another, depending on their age, and can appear in different body parts. In children under two years of age, outbreaks are most commonly seen on the face, scalp, hands, and feet. However, in older children and adults, areas such as the inside of the knees and elbows, neck, hands, and feet are affected.
In general, common symptoms of atopic dermatitis are:
- Formation of rashes or small scaly bumps on the skin that ooze fluid and form scabs.
- Dehydrated skin (xerosis), inflamed and reddened.
- Prolonged and intense itching or itching. The itchiness can appear even before the formation of the eruptions and be the result of continuous scratching.
- Raw skin areas due to rough scratching.
- Changes in the usual color of the skin.
- Thickened skin in certain areas usually happens after scratching or prolonged irritation.
In addition to these, people affected by atopic dermatitis can also suffer, consequently, problems such as lack of sleep, nervousness, stress, and low self-esteem or lack of self-confidence. It should be taken into account that symptoms can occur continuously or through intermittent episodes (flare-ups) and that they can disappear at any time.
Causes and risk factors of atopic dermatitis
The exact causes of atopic dermatitis are unknown, but specialists have pointed out that certain factors make some people more likely to suffer from it than others. These are the following:
- Genetics – Atopic dermatitis, hay fever, and asthma are closely linked. When one of the parents suffers from one of these conditions, there is a greater chance that their children will have atopic dermatitis.
- Weather conditions: living in cold climates and polluted cities also poses a greater risk of atopic dermatitis.
- Sex: It has been observed that women are more likely to suffer from this skin disease than men.
- Those children whose mothers have been older at delivery have a higher risk of suffering from atopic dermatitis than others.
Treatment of atopic dermatitis: medications
In many cases, it is possible to reduce the possibility of following strict medical treatment by adopting a series of skincare, such as those detailed in the next section, since these may be enough to keep episodes of atopic dermatitis under control. However, if the outbreaks are acute and the itching experienced is intense, it is advisable to go to the dermatologist to perform the appropriate tests and follow their indications regarding the most appropriate treatment.
Generally, the use of topical medications in the form of a corticosteroid cream or ointment is recommended to relieve itching and reduce the inflammation that eczema can lead to. It is essential to respect the guidelines provided by the doctor regarding its application since it is not favorable to use a more significant amount of cream than recommended or to prolong the duration of the treatment. The reason is that these types of topical drugs may thin the skin if used excessively or for a long time.
On the other hand, depending on the severity of the symptoms, oral antihistamines may also be prescribed to control the itching and promote the patient’s sleep, or a topical immunomodulator for those cases in which eczema does not respond to other treatments or in which corticosteroids are not suitable for the affected person. Antibiotic therapies are relegated to when there is some bacterial infection on the skin.
In adult patients, phototherapy, a treatment in which the skin is carefully exposed to UV rays and provides a remarkable improvement in episodes of atopic dermatitis, can give good results.
To keep the skin healthy, control, as far as possible, the appearance of outbreaks of atopic dermatitis, and prevent them from intensifying, people who suffer from this skin condition must adopt the following daily care a day:
- Use emollient or moisturizing creams on the skin all over the body. Trusted brands or those recommended by the dermatologist should be chosen. They can be applied several times a day since well-hydrated skin will have less chance of suffering severe itching during atopic dermatitis flare-ups. Emollients enriched with omega-six fatty acids or licochalcone A (an antioxidant) are good options to soothe inflammation and redness and protect the skin’s natural barrier.
- When showering, use pH neutral and hypoallergenic soaps to avoid damaging the skin’s structure and avoid the use of hard sponges and shower brushes.
- Prefer showers of 5 or 10 minutes and avoid long baths with too hot water.
- You should always gently dry your skin with a clean towel, but this is especially important during a rash of dermatitis so as not to cause further irritation.
- Avoid using lotions or cosmetic products that contain alcohol, fragrances, dyes, or other chemical components. Instead, mild, non-aggressive, hypoallergenic products should be used.
- Wear garments that are made of natural fabrics such as cotton, avoiding, on the contrary, those that are rough and do not favor perspiration, such as wool or nylon.
- Wash new clothes, bedding, and towels before use.
- Avoid sudden changes in temperature and keep environments ventilated and with low humidity to avoid sweating.
It is essential to bear in mind that if atopic dermatitis does not improve with this care, the symptoms worsen, the treatment prescribed by the doctor does not work, or signs of infection appear, you should see a doctor urgently as soon as possible.
This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.