What is atopic dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory process of the skin of allergic origin that manifests in early childhood and is characterised by rashes in skin fold areas (arms, neck, face).
What causes it?
There are multiple triggering factors such as stress, dryness or irritation of skin, perspiration changes and multiple allergens (food, additives, dyes, industrial products, etc.).
Where does it manifest?
Atopic dermatitis rashes manifest in different areas depending on the age of the allergic person:
- In breastfeeding infants it is seen on the cheeks and close to the eyelids.
- Between the ages of 2 and 10 it tends to affect the skin folds, such as knees, arms, legs and elbows.
- In children over the age of 10 it tends to affect the hands and skin folds.
- In adults, eczema lesions tend to be located on the folds of arms and legs.
Is atopic dermatitis hereditary?
The origin is not precisely known, although the hereditary factor plays an important role. Three of every four patients with a family history of allergic disease (rhinitis, eczema or allergic asthma) develop atopic dermatitis.
This genetic predisposition causes imperceptible changes in the skin that predispose a person to an increase in loss of moisture, alterations of the immune system and a greater predisposition to infections.
More than half of children with atopic dermatitis present rhinitis and/or allergic asthma at some time.
How is it diagnosed?
Diagnosis is performed by a specialist, through medical history, physical examination and additional tests.
How is atopic dermatitis treated?
1. Preventative measures:
- Use suitable clothing, avoiding materials that lead to perspiration, such as nylon, polyester and others. Use cotton or linen clothing.
- Keep hands clean and fingernails well-trimmed to avoid scratching and superinfection.
- Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures: hot and cold.
- Avoid exposure to irritants (bleach, others).
- Swim in salt water and sunbathe in moderation.
2. Treatment of outbreak or acute phase of eczema:
Mainly requires the medical prescription of topical or oral corticosteroids.
3. Measures during the remission phase:
- Keep the skin well moisturised to avoid the vicious circle of itching-scratching-itching.
- Treat itching energetically to avoid more lesions due to scratching and superinfections of the skin.
- Use pH neutral soaps and dermatological oils; take baths with colloidal oatmeal or glycerine.
- Avoid contact with triggering allergens.