Eczemas are skin conditions that present with dry, itchy and rough patches of skin on the face, elbows, behind knees, and on the hands and feet of an individual. Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common form of eczema but most people typically refer to it as eczema.
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic (long-term) skin disease that can cause inflammation, redness and rash. It is not contagious (cannot be spread from person to person) and can occur again (relapse), if proper care is not taken. Usually seen in infancy and in childhood, atopic dermatitis can also occur in adults. Atopic dermatitis affects 2.4% of the population globally with children till the age of 10 being most susceptible to it.
Studies have shown that AD is most commonly seen in more socio-economically developed nations in comparison to nations with low socioeconomic status.
For understanding the symptoms, causes and treatment of atopic dermatitis, consult Dr Priyanka Reddy, the best dermatologist in DNA Skin Clinic and Wellness Centre, Bangalore.
There are many theories that revolve around to the causes of AD. It is believed that AD may be caused due to:
The risk factors for the development of AD are higher in children if there is a family history of eczema, asthma, hay fever (allergic reactions to pollen, dust or any other environmental factor) or any other allergies.
Itching is the most common symptom of atopic dermatitis, which can range from mild to severe. Itching may occur before the appearance of the rash. Symptoms of eczema may differ from person to person and may also appear in different areas for different individuals. The other skin symptoms in an AD person will be:
These symptoms vary depending on the age of the individual
In infants and children < 2 years of age
The itchy, red rash appears mainly on the face, scalp and at the area of joint bends. The rash may also extend to the arms, legs and chest and oozes when scratched. Atopic dermatitis does not involve the diaper area of infants.
In children (> 2yrs) and teenagers
In children, the appearance of the red rash causes a thickening of the skin and may ooze blood when scratched. In later stages, the rash becomes scaly and crusting develops. It is most commonly seen on bends of the elbows, behind the knees, on the neck, on the wrists and ankles.
The skin with atopic dermatitis in adults and some teenagers appear dry, thick, and scaly with the presence of a rash on the backs of the knees, wrists, hands, and feet. These skin changes may start as a reddish patch and later turn brown in a fair skin individual. In darker-skinned individuals, the affected area becomes lighter or darker due to AD.
Other places on the body where the skin is affected by AD
Atopic dermatitis just does not come with a specific set of skin problems but also carries a significant emotional burden with itself. People with atopic dermatitis are found to have low, self-esteem, and decreased quality of life with sleep disturbances. Other conditions associated with AD are asthma, food allergies,slin conditions like ichthyosis (dry, thick skin), anxiety and depression. It is believed that stress aggravates AD and leads to the worsening of the disease.
At DNA Skin Clinic and Wellness Centre, Bangalore, experienced dermatologists diagnose atopic dermatitis by history and physical examination. A patch test is sometimes done to diagnose the condition that identifies the allergen which has triggered AD. In this test, an allergen is applied to the skin and if that allergen is the trigger, the skin will get red, inflamed and would start to itch. The dermatologist would sometimes take a blood sample or a skin biopsy to rule out other causes of weeping or oozing dermatitis.
There is yet no cure for eczema, hence the treatment focusses on reducing symptoms, healing the skin, and preventing further flare-ups. Dr Priyanka Reddy, the best dermatologist in DNA Skin Clinic and Wellness Centre, Bangalore, believes that treatment for AD can be divided into:
A combination of some of the options may work for some individuals.
The doctor can prescribe some medications to reduce the symptoms and flare-ups. Depending on the condition, the following medicines can be given:
These will help in reducing the flare-ups and help you live well with AD
Also known as phototherapy is the modality of treatment that can be tried if oral or topical creams are not effective. In light therapy, the skin is exposed to controlled doses of natural sunlight. The light sources used are Artificial ultraviolet A (UVA) and narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) alone or in combination with other medications. Light therapy can be tried only after consultation with your dermatologist. Consultation for light therapy in AD can be taken from Dr Priyanka Reddy, the best dermatologist in DNA Skin Clinic and Wellness Centre, Bangalore. In infants and children, light therapy is not advised as it may predispose them to the risk of developing skin cancers.
These are some ways in which the symptoms can be managed at home:
Symptoms of atopic dermatitis, if not cured, can definitely be prevented by using these measures:
AD may lead to some complications that may sometimes be a cause for concern.
It is advisable to visit your dermatologist if the symptoms flare up. Take an appointment with Dr Priyanka Reddy, the best dermatologist in DNA Skin Clinic and Wellness Centre, Bangalore, if:
Even though there is no cure for atopic dermatitis, the symptoms can be controlled and prevented by seeking medical help. It is important to consult your doctor to get a proper treatment plan and advise.