What is Atopic Dermatitis?
Atopic Dermatitis or Atopic Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition and is the most common type of eczema. Atopic Dermatitis occurs most commonly in children, with 90% of reported cases developing before the age of 5. While there is no permanent cure for Atopic Dermatitis, there are certain periods where the skin symptoms are worse and are known as flares. There is also a period where the skin symptoms get better and this period is known as remission.
What are the basic facts on Atopic Dermatitis?
Atopic Dermatitis is a commonly occurring skin condition among both men and women, and it can have different levels of severity. As mentioned earlier, most cases of Atopic Dermatitis occur in infancy or childhood but there is about a 5% chance when Atopic Dermatitis can occur in adulthood. There is a higher prevalence of Atopic Dermatitis among persons residing in an urban environment, i.e. cities.
How is Atopic Dermatitis different from other skin diseases?
Atopic Dermatitis is sometimes confused with Psoriasis but there is a difference in the symptoms of both these skin conditions. In the case of Psoriasis, you will find thick scaly patches on your skin with well-defined borders, while in Atopic Dermatitis, you will observe a dry and scaly rash on your skin. Sometimes in Atopic Dermatitis, oozing blisters and small bumps can also appear on the skin. One key characteristic of Atopic Dermatitis is the intense itch that it causes. While Psoriasis may cause mild itching, higher severity of the itch is associated with Atopic Dermatitis.
Apart from Atopic Dermatitis, there are other types of dermatitis or eczema as well, such as contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, neurodermatitis, and dyshidrotic eczema.
What are the risk factors for Atopic Dermatitis?
There are several risk factors that have been identified for someone developing atopic dermatitis which include:
- Having a family history of Atopic Dermatitis or any other atopy, which is the genetic tendency of developing allergic diseases like asthma or seasonal allergies
- Having a personal history of atopy or allergies
- Place of residence
- Mother’s age at child’s birth
- Socioeconomic status
How is Atopic Dermatitis diagnosed?
Atopic Dermatitis is primarily diagnosed based on a physical exam by a medical professional and the history of symptoms the person is experiencing. The essential features of the diagnostic guidelines for Atopic Dermatitis include the presence of pruritus, or itching and eczema, inflamed skin with typical age-specific patterns and any chronic or relapse history.
What are the common symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis?
The most common symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis are rashes or patches of dry, scaly skin which occur in patterns based on the person’s age, changes in skin colour, oozing blisters, thickened skin, pimples or papules, vesicles, as well as other symptoms which impact the eyes and the ears.
How is Atopic Dermatitis treated?
Essentially, the aim of Atopic Dermatitis treatment is to relieve symptoms, reduce the skin inflammatory response, maintain a healthy skin barrier, control the intense itch, and manage other triggers. There are over-the-counter medications available to help relieve some symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis. There are also prescription medications that a doctor may prescribe to help treat Atopic Dermatitis. Phototherapy is another treatment option for some individuals which may help with symptom relief and also the quality of life.
Can Atopic Dermatitis be permanently cured?
Currently, there is no permanent cure for Atopic Dermatitis. But, individuals with Atopic Dermatitis may experience periods of remission, when they are clear from any symptoms of the skin condition. While some individuals experience remission as they age, majority of children with Atopic Dermatitis have persistent disease way into their twenties or longer.