ATOPIC DERMATITIS: Skin disease you’ll not want to experience…

Atopic dermatitis is a skin disease which is characterized with severe itching. This itch causes patient to scratch their body thereby leading to redness, swelling, cracking, thick skin and scaling. It is an allergic reaction associated with asthma, hay fever and a chronic dermatitis.


Atopic dermatitis can occur in any age. It affects infants and children from as early as age of two years old and may persist till adulthood. It may cause bacterial superimposed infection. As patients get into their late teens, it abates to leave lichenified patches on their cubital (hollow in front of elbow) or popliteal fossa (hollow at the back of knee joint).

Atopic dermatitis in flexure area of the body.
Image credit: Foundation Dermatitis Atopique


FACTOR THAT CAN TRIGER ATOPIC DERMATITIS
Emotional factors such as anger, stress and poor sleep.
Excessive heat with humidity
Exposure to harsh soap
Exposure to detergent
Cold weather


DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA
Before your doctor will diagnose you of atopic dermatitis, the following criteria must be present according to UK Working Party on Atopic Dermatitis:
An itchy skin condition in the past twelve months plus three of the following –
1. Onset below the age of two years
2. History of flexural involvement including the neck, and the cheeks in children under the age of ten.
3. History of generally dry skin in the past year.
4. Personal history of other allergic disease
5. For children under the age of 4 years old, history of atopic disease in first-degree relative.


TREATMENT
1. Psychological support
2. Avoid offending agent and complex topical medication.
3. Keep finger nail short to avoid self-inflicted injury when scratching the skin.
4. Use of antihistamine
5. Corticosteroid creams or ointment to suppress inflammation.
6. Medicated and antiseptic soap should be avoided because they may irritate the skin.
7. Topical immunomodulator or calcineurin inhibitors, pimecrolimus (Elidel cream) and talcrolimus (protopic 0.03% and 0.1% ointment) are also anti-inflammatory and can be used to treat atopic dermatitis in patients older than 2 years. These drugs are highly effective.

SKIN CARE IN ATOPIC DERMATITIS
1. Lukewarm bath without drying it out.
2. Use non-soap cleanser
3. Use moisturizing cream and avoid lotions with alcohol content.
4. Stay away from things you are allergic to.
5. Avoid emotional stress like anger
6. Keep fingernails short to avoid injuring yourself when you scratch your skin. It is even better to avoid scratching your skin.