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Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Atopic Dermatitis is the most common type of eczema which is a skin condition that makes you itch and leaves red blotches usually on your legs, arms, and face. It occurs most often in children and affects almost 18 million adults. The rashes tend to flare and go away but then come back again.

Science has been unable to fully explain why the immune system becomes disordered and overactive in people with this disease. When this occurs, it triggers inflammation, resulting in the skin becoming dry and itchy. Moreover, the rashes may appear purple, brown, or grayish in darker skin tones, and red in lighter tones.

 

What Causes Atopic Dermatitis?

Eczema has no definitive cause, but many health professionals believe it is caused by a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Eczema is more likely to develop in children if their parents have it or another atopic condition. The risk is even higher if both parents have atopic conditions. Some environmental factors may also bring out the symptoms of eczema. These include:

  • Allergens: Dust mites, pollens, pets, and mold can all lead to eczema. This is known as allergic eczema.
  • Irritants: These include disinfectants, detergents, soaps, and shampoos, meats, juices from fresh fruits, and vegetables.
  • Microbes: These include bacteria such as viruses, Staphylococcus aureus, and certain fungi.
  • Hot and cold temperatures: Very cold and very hot weather, high and low humidity, and perspiration from exercise can bring out eczema.
  • Foods: Dairy products, nuts and seeds, eggs, soy products, and wheat can cause eczema flares.
  • Stress: This is not a direct cause of eczema, but it can make the symptoms worse.
  • Hormones: Females may experience increased eczema symptoms when their hormone levels are changing, such as at certain points in the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy.

 

Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis

The symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis vary widely from person to person and include:

  • Raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching
  • Thickened, cracked, scaly skin
  • Small and raised bumps might leak fluid and crust over when scratched
  • Itching, which may be severe, especially at night
  • Dry skin
  • Red to brownish-gray patches, especially on the hands, ankles, feet, eyelids, neck, wrists, upper chest, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and in infants, the face and scalp

This disease most often begins before age 5 and may persist into adolescence and adulthood. For some people, it flares periodically and then clears up for a time.

 

Treatment for Atopic Dermatitis

Medications

  • Corticosteroid cream or ointment
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Oral Corticosteroid

Therapies

  • Light therapy is used in people who either do not get better with topical treatments
  • Wet dressings are an effective treatment for severe atopic dermatitis
  • Counseling helps people who are embarrassed or frustrated by their skin condition

Eczema in Babies

  • Lubricating your baby's skin with bath oils, creams, or ointments
  • Avoiding extreme temperatures
  • Identifying and avoiding skin irritants

 

Prevention of Atopic Dermatitis

  • Try to identify and avoid triggers that worsen the condition.
  • Moisturize your skin at least twice a day.
  • Take shorter baths or showers.
  • Use only gentle soaps.
  • Dry yourself carefully.

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