Eczema Atopic or Atopic Dermatitis

Overview

It is the most common type of eczema or dermatitis. It can occur in any age, but more common in children. Symptoms come and go – some patient experience symptoms all year round.  In most people, it occurs as a long-term condition.

There is no absolute cure, however treatments (applying moisturizing creams) and prevention methods (such as avoiding exposure to chemicals, soaps and detergents) can largely reduce the intensity of the symptoms in most atopic eczema patients.

Signs and Symptoms

Common symptoms include:

  • Sore and dry skin
  • Itching, sometimes severe
  • Skin gets red and inflamed when scratched
  • Cracking and bleeding
  • Inflamed red skin could be widespread or small patches
  • Dry scaly skin peels off on scratching
  • May cause bumps and blisters filled with fluid

Atopic dermatitis may affect any part of the skin, however mostly affects insides of elbows, face, hands, backs of knees and scalp in children

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of atopic eczema is unclear but it occurs in people who are sensitive to some allergic substance. It is generally run in families or sometimes develop in people who suffer with hay fever and asthma.

Some factors (for example stress) and chemicals that are present in certain detergents, soaps, cosmetic products could trigger atopic eczema. Food allergies may also play a part in causing atopic dermatitis.

Atopic Dermatitis in Children/Infants

Children often get atopic dermatitis during their first year of life.

A rash often begins in the creases of knees or elbows. Other common places for the rash to appear are ankles, wrists, neck and between the legs or buttocks. Dry and scaly patches appear on the skin commonly occur on the cheeks of children.

Atopic dermatitis is very itchy and infants may rub their skin against carpeting or bedding to get rid of the constant itch. Sometimes the intensity of itch would not let the child fall asleep. Moreover, scratching could lead to skin infection.

Atopic Dermatitis in Adults

It is more common in babies although it can occur in adults as well. People living in humid and dry climate are more likely to develop the diseases.

Most people get atopic dermatitis before the age of five.

In adults, atopic dermatitis appears in the creases of elbows, neck or knees.
It covers much of the body surface area and could be especially noticeable on face, neck and around the eyes.

It causes very dry skin and non-stop itch. It also causes scaly skin and could sometimes lead to infections.

Diagnosis and Testing

Doctors usually diagnose atopic dermatitis by looking at the affected skin and asking questions about the family history and possible exposure to certain chemicals

Treatment

The treatment objective is to heal the skin damage and prevent dermatitis eruption. There are different treatments options that are used to control symptoms of atopic dermatitis, which includes:

  • Moisturizing creams – Emollient treatments. These could be used on daily basis for dry skin
  • In some cases, topical (creams or ointments) corticosteroids could be used to decrease redness, itching and swelling
  • Sometimes antibiotics creams are prescribed in case of infection
  • Many self-care measure such as identifying the cause such as allergen or irritant that triggers the eczema and avoiding exposure to it helps in reducing symptoms
  • Controlling from scratching or itching

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