Atopic Dermatitis – causes, side effects and treatments at NaturalPedia.com

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 by

Atopic dermatitis, also known as atopic eczema, is an inflammatory disease marked by recurring bouts of itchy skin. The condition usually starts in early infancy, but it can also appear in adults.

It is usually linked to increased levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody produced by the immune system that causes an allergic reaction – hence the name “atopic.” It is also linked to other allergic disorders: Up to 60 percent of people with atopic dermatitis get asthma or hay fever (allergic rhinitis) later in life, and at least 30 percent develop food allergies. This is usually referred to as the “atopic march,” wherein these disorders develop in progression – atopic dermatitis appears first, followed by food allergies, then hay fever, and finally, asthma. Still, not all individuals who have atopic dermatitis undergo the atopic march, and not all individuals with an allergic disease will develop the rest.

While atopic dermatitis is the most common form of dermatitis, its etiology is unknown. Experts believe that is could be hereditary, or environmental factors could trigger it. Stress, while it can aggravate the condition, is not a direct cause of the disease.

A person with atopic dermatitis is also more likely to develop other inflammation-related conditions. These include inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and alopecia areata – hair loss caused by a defective immune reaction. In some cases, the condition may also be a feature of more severe skin abnormalities, as well as immunodeficiency.

Atopic dermatitis is a common disorder, affecting up to 20 percent of children and 10 percent of adults.

Known symptoms of atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic condition, that is, symptoms do not usually go away after days of weeks and can most likely happen again. It typically appears on the cheeks, arms, and legs, but it can occur anywhere in the body. The usual signs and symptoms of the condition include:

  • Dry and scaly skin
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • The appearance of cracks behind the ears
  • A rash on the cheeks, arms or legs
  • Open, crusted or “weepy” sores (usually seen during flares)

When the condition persists, it may lead to complications, which could include:

  • Asthma and hay fever — If a person has atopic dermatitis, there is a likelihood that he will get the two conditions later in life.
  • Neurodermatitis — This is a condition triggered by the itch-scratch cycle. It appears as a patch of itchy skin, which a person scratches. This makes it even itchier, as the cycle continues, the affected skin becomes discolored, thick, and leathery.
  • Skin infections — The repeated scratching of skin causes sores and cracks. This increases the likelihood of bacterial and viral infection.
  • Irritant hand dermatitis — People who are required to be in work environments where the hands are wet and exposed to harsh soaps, detergents, and disinfectants are usually affected by the condition.
  • Sleep problems — The itch-scratch cycle of atopic dermatitis can diminish sleep quality.

Body systems affected by atopic dermatitis

The condition primarily affects the skin.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent or relieve atopic dermatitis

Many people who have atopic dermatitis also have food allergies. To minimize the risk of outbreaks, avoid the following food items which are associated with the condition.

  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Soy products
  • Gluten
  • Nuts
  • Fish and shellfish

Moreover, as atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory disease, eating food that minimizes it is recommended.

  • Fatty fish such as salmon and herring contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation.
  • Quercetin, a plant-based flavonoid, is a potent antioxidant and antihistamine, which helps deal with flare-ups. You can find it in apples, blueberries, cherries, broccoli, spinach, and kale.
  • Probiotics, like those found in yogurt, have live cultures that reduce allergic reactions.

Avoid eating foods that contain preservatives or processed sugars, since these increase the likelihood of inflammation in your body.

Treatment and management options for atopic dermatitis

Treating atopic dermatitis is a long-term procedure. However, it always requires a reduction of exposure to possible trigger factors, the application of moisturizers, and topical steroid use. In some cases, medications like calcineurin inhibitors or immunosuppressive agents are given.

Where to learn more

Summary

Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory disease marked by recurring bouts of itchy skin. While it is the most common form of dermatitis, its etiology is unknown. The condition is common, affecting up to 20 percent of children and 10 percent of adults.

Symptoms do not usually go away after days of weeks and can most likely happen again. It typically appears on the cheeks, arms, and legs, but it can occur anywhere in the body. Many people who have atopic dermatitis also have food allergies. To minimize the risk of outbreaks, avoid the food items which are associated with the condition.

Sources include:

eMedicine.Medscape.com

AAAAI.org

GHR.NLM.NIH.gov

NIAMS.NIH.gov

NationalEczema.org

MayoClinic.org

Healthline.com

DermNetNZ.org



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