What is atopic dermatitis? It’s the most common type of eczema. It often appears as a red, itchy rash normally on the cheeks, arms and legs.
According to the National Eczema Association, “We don’t know the exact cause of atopic dermatitis. When a substance from inside or outside the body triggers the immune system, it over-reacts and produces inflammation. It is this inflammation that causes the skin to become red, itchy rash."
An estimated 10% of all people worldwide are affected by atopic dermatitis at some point in their life. The condition seems to be more common in urban areas and developed countries. Either way, atopic dermatitis is not contagious. You or your child cannot “catch” it from another person, or give it to someone else.
When trying to identify triggers that might aggravate your atopic dermatitis, keep in mind that a flare can appear some time after exposure. Though triggers can vary from person to person, some of the most common atopic dermatitis triggers include:
· Dry skin — which can easily become brittle, scaly, rough, and tight
· Chemical irritants — everyday products or substances (hand and dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, bubble bath and body wash, or surface cleaners and disinfectants) that can cause your skin to burn and itch, or become dry and red
· Stress can cause a person’s atopic dermatitis to flare or get worse
· Hot/cold temps and sweating can lead to itchy skin or “prickly heat” symptoms from the heat and/or sweating and very dry skin can develop during the cold winter months
· Infection from bacteria and viruses that live in your environment (like staph, herpes, or certain types of fungi)
· Allergens from everyday materials in the environment like seasonal pollen, dust mites, pet dander and mold
· Hormones — flares may happen, especially in women, when certain hormones in the body increase or decrease
Managing atopic dermatitis comes down to these basics:
· Know your triggers
· Implement a regular bathing and moisturizing routine. Get rid of all skin care products that have chemicals in them (read labels and you will be surprised how many famous brands have fancy names & expensive packaging but contain harmful, drying detergents.
· Use OTC and/or prescription medication consistently and as prescribed.
· Watch for signs of infection — pus-filled bumps, pain, redness, heat — on the skin
Here are some things you can do to help control your atopic dermatitis:
· Establish a daily skin care routine.
· Try to pinpoint your atopic dermatitis triggers, but don’t worry if you are unable to identify them all.
· As much as you are able, try not to scratch and rub the affected skin. Dress in soft, breathable clothing and avoid itchy fabrics like wool.
· Remove common, everyday allergens from your home.
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