Atopic Dermatitis – What is it?
Atopic Dermatitis is a chronic and inflammatory disease. It is usually characterized by extreme dryness, itchiness, irritation, inflammation and eczema outbreaks.
These outbreaks can be more or less longstanding and alternate with remission phases. They are more common during childhood, and tend to diminish or subside in adulthood.
This pathology has two main causes:
Firstly, genetic predisposition: children whose parents have atopic dermatitis are more likely to manifest the disease up to 30% more for one parent or 70% for both parents. Suffering from asthma, rhinitis, bronchitis or other kinds of allergies also influence the probability of atopic dermatitis outbreaks.
The skin barrier is compromised, making it more susceptible to external factors that will initiate an outbreak, such as dry cold weather, sunlight, hormonal changes, stress, irritant substances, allergens and microorganisms.
Secondly, environmental factors: over the last 20 years, the prevalence of this pathology has tripled.
At birth, the baby’s skin tends to look normal, and it’s only between 2 and 9 months after, the outbreaks start to manifest. The skin is very dry, easily irritated, there is intense itching, in more severe cases the skin may present some red plaques that can also be exudative, or even open wounds.
These outbreaks may manifest in many different body part, such as the face (eyelids and cheeks), torso, arms, legs (mainly flexural folds) and hands.
Even after an acute phase, the skin is still very dry and easily irritable due to its permanently damaged skin barrier which in turn makes it more susceptible to new outbreaks. This completes the Atopic Skin “vicious cycle”.
It is therefore essential to have a daily skin care routine either during an acute phase, or a remission phase, so it is possible to manage itchiness and discomfort as well as preventing new crises.
Read more on how to manage your atopy here.