Atopic dermatitis is an autoimmune inflammatory skin disorder. Three keywords to remember atopic dermatitis are chronic, inflammatory, and pruritic. This condition is also called eczema. It is so prevalent that 5% to 20% of children worldwide suffer from skin conditions and often experience onset during childhood. But, if not treated properly, it can carry on to adolescence. It can also occur most frequently in infants, children, and adults. Atopic dermatitis mostly affects the skin surfaces and flexure surfaces. It is associated with other conditions with increased levels of immunoglobulin E.
Atopic dermatitis can cause an extremely unbearable itching that can frustrate and stresses you out, and it may even last for the whole day. Itchiness may bother you throughout the day as you can’t get rid of it. Often, eczema patients present with symptoms, such as severe and intense itching. Dry skin, red skin, peeling skin, scaling, and scarring skin affects their quality of life. Many patients have sleep disturbances due to itching, which one of the important symptoms observed in atopic dermatitis. Many others have social stigma where it affects their social life.
Depending on the patient’s age, these patches may appear on the face, scalp, neck, folds of elbows, behind the knees, on the buttocks, hands, and feet. Atopic dermatitis present in adults and children in a similar way.
Causes of Atopic Dermatitis
The cause of atopic dermatitis is defective epidermal barrier issues with the skin. There are various reasons why atopic dermatitis begins in your adulthood.
There are 4 main causes of atopic dermatitis.
- Genetic predisposition: It runs often in families whose members also happen to develop asthma, allergic rhinitis, and certain food allergies. Most notable is the gene that encodes for filaggrin, a protein involved in water retention and is responsible for the skin barrier functions. Mutation in the filaggrin gene causes dry skin and result in a strong susceptibility to the disease.
- Immunologic factors: It’s our immune cell reacting hypersensitively to allergens in our bodies. It may also occur because our immune cells react strangely to the allergens outside our body.
- Environmental factors: The skin condition can result due to fine dust, air pollution, and change in the weather. Sometimes, dust mites can be responsible for it.
- Medications: Inflammatory drugs, such as steroid creams, used during treatment can flare-up atopic dermatitis. Antibiotics may be required if skin infections occur. Atopic dermatitis can worsen if you have a high dosage of antibiotics for children or even for adults. If you have mental or emotional stress, it can worsen the condition. These are the negative barriers.
Those affected with atopic dermatitis have a sensitive skin barrier. Usually, the strength of your skin barrier is slightly reduced due to genetic predisposition or environmental factors. This makes your skin very dry because all the moisture is evaporated. So, allergy-causing agents or germs can easily penetrate the skin.
First of all, atopic dermatitis causes inflammation. So, it makes your skin itch and turns your skin dry. So, this is the key point to remember that it is inflammation so using products that can irritate your skin can worsen atopic dermatitis.
Dos of Atopic Dermatitis
Here are some helpful tips to manage and alleviate atopic dermatitis.
- Moisturize the skin: The important tip is to moisturize your skin daily to protect and strengthen the skin barrier. Care for your skin. Use oil-based, fragrance-free moisturizers to keep your skin hydrated during remissions. Mineral oil and petroleum, such as Vaseline, are known to be very good for hyper-dry or very dry skin because of their good moisturizing power and good stability to the skin. However, when it’s applied to the skin with atopic dermatitis, it can be absorbed properly. It is better to avoid ingredients, such as alcohol or ethanol, because it can make your skin dry. There is an easy tip – after you take shower, moisture your skin within three minutes. The idea is to lock the moisture on your skin after a shower. Reapply it 4-5 times a day or whenever you feel your skin has become dry. It’s very important to hydrate yourself as this also helps in reducing the dryness in your skin.
- Consult a skin specialist: For the correct diagnosis of your skin condition, consult a skin specialist. So, make sure to consult a skin specialist to make a correct diagnosis. Continuous care is extremely important so that the relief in the symptoms can improve over time. You should be aware that prolonged use of steroid medications can cause shrinking, thereby leading to dilated capillaries and pimples rising on the chest or the face. So, while taking steroid medicines check the dosage and the usage period with your doctor and make sure that you follow their directions thoroughly. Also, avoid unnecessary steroid medications for mild skin irritations. It is also important to consider the right cause and symptoms specific to the individual for a customized treatment. Consulting an experienced homeopath can help you obtain relief.
- Make sure that you wear cotton clothes. One of the most common factors that can cause atopic dermatitis is wearing tight-fitted and uncomfortable clothing. Also, physical touch can irritate the skin. So, the itchy knitwear or synthetic fibers can irritate the skin and worsen the rash. Putting on cotton clothes can help you to prevent irritation. When you are sweating, cotton helps in absorbing the sweat which lessens the irritations. It is also important to rinse and wash your clothes thoroughly to make sure that there are no leftover detergents on them to prevent irritation on your skin.
- Cut your nails short: It is a wise decision to cut your nails and maintain clean nails because it lessens the irritation to your skin when you are scratching it. But, if you scratch it more, the itchiness worsens day by day. Long nails can cause the skin to peel, and it can also cause the skin to bleed. This can cause skin damage severely, thereby leading to secondary infections. So, make sure to keep your nails short because you might scratch unconsciously when you are going to sleep.
- Follow good hygiene practices: Sanitation is very important because unhygienic conditions increase the risk of skin issues. Sweating and dandruff can cause skin irritation. It can also be a cause of allergies. So, make sure that you bathe properly by using a mild soap that is neutral or that has a low pH level. It is not recommended to use a soap daily when bathing because its frequent use can weaken the skin barrier and it can make your skin dry. Take a short bath.
Don’ts of Atopic Dermatitis:
Here are some don’ts of atopic dermatitis that you should be aware of.
- Stay away from skin irritation: Synthetic clothes, knitwear, sun rays, and chemical factors can irritate your skin and aggravate atopic dermatitis. Skin irritation can also result due to fine dust or even emotional or mental stress.
- Avoid food that can cause allergic reactions: Foods, such as soya beans, milk, peanuts, or eggs, can cause allergic reactions. So, you have to make smart or wise choices if you want to prevent atopic dermatitis.
- Avoid rapid change in the temperature: Atopic dermatitis can be sensitive to humidity and temperature. A quick change in the temperature can irritate your skin. So, such a rapid change in the humidity and temperature can make your atopic dermatitis worse.
- Get rid of dust mites: Dust mites can irritate your skin and can cause you to get less sleep. If the symptoms are severe, it’s recommended to wash your bed sheets at a high temperature and dry it under the sun.
- Take care of your emotional and mental health: Stress can worsen atopic dermatitis. When stressed, people focus more on how it itches, thereby making it worse. But, if you just forget about it and move on with the day, it becomes a lot better.
Eczema is not contagious. There is no cure for atopic dermatitis, but lifestyle changes and self-care can also help you obtain relief. Homeopathic treatment can also help alleviate skin discomfort and improve your skin health. So, follow these dos and don’ts when suffering from atopic dermatitis, and obtain relief in your skin discomfort naturally.