Atopic dermatitis, known as eczema, is a chronic skin condition that can cause extreme physical and emotional distress. It is a type of skin inflammation caused by an overactive immune system, resulting in dry, itchy, or scaly patches on the skin.
Atopic dermatitis is a lifelong condition that is often first diagnosed in infancy or early childhood but can sometimes appear unexpectedly in adulthood, triggered by a combination of environmental and genetic factors, and is much more common in those with a family history of the condition.
The affected skin areas are typically red and inflamed and may ooze or crust due to itching and scratching. Hiding away or wearing long sleeves and pants can lessen symptoms, but they can flare up anytime.
Ointments, creams, and medications are typically used to help manage atopic dermatitis. Steroid creams are often used as a short-term solution to reduce inflammation, while some people opt for emollients to help keep the skin hydrated.
Poison ivy, stress, and triggers like skin irritants and temperature changes can all cause an atopic dermatitis flare-up. People with the condition can develop allergies to particular products or medications, so keeping track of the skin's reaction to specific products is necessary.
Phototherapy can sometimes treat more severe atopic dermatitis cases. It can help to reduce inflammation and calm itching and redness caused by the condition. In phototherapy, a patient is exposed to ultraviolet light briefly each day.
Diet can influence atopic dermatitis, and many experts believe that cutting out inflammatory foods, such as dairy, eggs, wheat, and soy products, may help to reduce the severity of the condition.
Bacterial infections due to viruses, toxins, and allergens are commonly associated with atopic dermatitis, so it's crucial to keep the skin clean with non-irritating soaps and use moisturizing lotions to avoid cracking and irritation.
Regular exercise can help to reduce stress levels and can even help to boost the immune system, which may lessen the symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
Psychological stress can cause or worsen atopic dermatitis, and mindfulness or relaxation practices may be beneficial for dealing with stress and calming flare-ups.
Many support groups and websites are dedicated to helping people manage their condition and giving advice on lifestyle, diet, and medications. For those living with atopic dermatitis, the support and information can be a great help.