Atopic Dermatitis (AD) is a chronic disease that can have a diverse clinical course. It is a common, often persistent, skin disease that affects a significant percentage of the world’s population. It is a special type of allergic hypersensitivity that is associated with asthma, inhalant allergies (hay fever) and chronic dermatitis.
It is among the most common types of skin conditions that are characterized by redness and itchiness of the skin. It can lead to inflammation that can occur all over the body, in the arms, back of the neck and legs.
Frequently asked questions about atomic dermatitis
1. What are some of the factors that can trigger Atomic Dermatitis?
Seasonal allergies, exposure to harsh soaps and detergents, and cold weather could be some likely factors. It can also be triggered by pollution and lack of moisture in the air. It starts with itching and redness and then progresses to a rash that can bleed and ooze when scratching. The itching can be so intense that it can affect everyday functions like sleep and lack of concentration. Atopic dermatitis is among the most costly skin diseases in the world and around 10-15 percent of the population in India has some form of it.
2. When does Atopic Dermatitis occur?
Atopic dermatitis can occur at any age. Most often it affects babies and young children. Occasionally, it may persist into adulthood or rarely appear at that time. Some patients tend to have a prolonged course with difficulties. In most cases, there are periods when the disease gets worse, called flares or flare-ups, which are followed by periods when the skin improves or clears completely, called remissions. Many children with atopic dermatitis go into permanent remission of the condition as they age, although their skin may remain dry and easily irritated.
This condition manifests itself differently in different individuals. For some patients, the disease is more sporadic or seasonal, while others may have a more chronic, persistent course. In half of the cases, it exists alongside asthma and hay fever. Thus, individuals with a family history of these diseases are more likely to suffer from AD. In most cases AD is hereditary and is a non-contagious disease.
3. Is it more common among the elderly?
The multiple changes in seniors with weak immune systems can lead to a decreased ability to defend against pathogens, which would make seniors more vulnerable to serious and chronic infections. Seniors with AD tend to be more allergic to pollen and dust mites, and are often hypersensitive to mixtures of fragrances and metals such as nickel and cobalt. The skin barrier decreases with increasing age, which can make AD worse, as aged skin has a harder time repairing itself compared to younger skin.
4. What about the treatment of Atopic Dermatitis?
However, there is currently no cure for it, but there are few treatment options that can help a person manage the symptoms of atopic dermatitis. Medicated creams or oral medications to moisturize the skin can help reduce itchiness and relieve inflammation. Wet wrap therapy can help improve the symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis by increasing the moisture in a person’s skin. People with a severe case of this condition may also benefit from ultraviolet (UV) light therapy. It has been found that 70% of people with the condition see an improvement in their symptoms after phototherapy. UVB helps reduce itching and inflammation, and stimulates the body to create vitamin D. It can also help the skin fight bacteria to prevent infections.
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Certain general measures can also help alleviate the symptoms of atopic dermatitis, such as using natural moisturizers, for example coconut and sunflower oil, which help to retain moisture and relieve itching. Bathing every day is essential for Atopic Dermatitis as it helps keep the skin hydrated and prevents infections. One can adopt various skin care methods to help reduce the symptoms of the condition. Avoid wool, which can irritate the skin, avoid strong soaps and detergents and products that contain scents, dyes or fragrances, and avoid rubbing dry skin for too long.