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What is Atopic Dermatitis By Alyssa Crawford

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Atopic Dermatitis (more commonly known as eczema) is a skin condition that affects people of all ages.  Although it is typically found in infants and children, it can stay with a person well into adulthood.

While there is not a definite cause of Atopic Dermatitis, there are several contributing factors that may cause flare-ups such as man-made materials, food allergies (eggs, dairy, fish, soy, wheat), heat, stress, genetics, detergents, cigarette smoke, dry skin, hot baths, and sweating. Also, the environment that a person lives in can take a toll on their skin, which may cause flare-ups.  Cold or dry environments or an environment with high pollution can severely irritate the skin.

Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis include red, brown, or gray patches on the skin that are extremely itchy. Small bumps where those patches often occur, and when scratched profusely, they may become raw, and a clear fluid may leak out of those bumps. Also, if the bumps are scratched open, there is a chance that it could become infected, therefore needing greater treatment.

Atopic Dermatitis can usually be healed with creams such as anti-itch creams, and over-the-counter Hydrocortisone creams. There are cases in a physician’s aid is required.  A physician should be called if the Atopic Dermatitis if the Atopic Dermatitis does not begin clearing up within several days, becomes infected, or is painful to the point that it interferes with daily life. A physician should also be contacted if the patient was exposed to genital herpes, cold sores, or any other type of viral skin disease while their Atopic Dermatitis is flaring up.  Contact with any of these viral skin diseases while having a flare-up of Atopic Dermatitis can cause the patient to contract not only the herpes simplex virus but also eczema herpeticum in severe cases.

If a physician’s aid is required, the patient should be prepared to ask any questions that they have.  They should also be prepared to answer any questions about their health or lifestyle.  A physician will ask these questions so that they can narrow down what causes the Atopic Dermatitis to flare up, and to assist in deciding what treatment will be most effective.

Treatments for more severe cases of dermatitis include antibiotics, oral or injected corticosteroids, immunomodulators, and oral antihistamines. Physicians may also recommend phototherapy (or light therapy), immunosuppressants, or prescription-strength moisturizers.

There are also several things the patient can do at home to assist in healing and preventing Atopic Dermatitis. The first is to avoid scratching.  Scratching will only irritate and worsen the symptoms.  If scratching is nearly impossible to avoid, the patient can trim nails down and wear gloves to bed.

Another home remedy that can help control and heal Atopic Dermatitis is warm (not hot) baths. Warm baths with colloidal oatmeal can help alleviate itching and calm Atopic Dermatitis. When bathing, use mild soaps and avoid soaps that contain perfumes and dyes. After bathing, gently pat dry and follow with a highly moisturizing skin lotion.

If the patient notices that there are any foods that, after consuming, make their Atopic Dermatitis flare up, they should try to avoid those foods whenever possible.

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Sweating can cause Atopic Dermatitis to worsen; strenuous workouts should be avoided during flare-ups.  Also, loose, smooth textured cotton clothing can allow the skin to breathe, whereas tight clothing can suppress the skin, and cause friction and further irritation.

Atopic Dermatitis is not usually a serious condition however, it is very irritating. Patients should not hesitate to contact their physician for assistance in controlling and healing their Atopic Dermatitis.





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