Atopic dermatitis, often called eczema, is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder characterized by exacerbations and remissions. The “atopy” refers to the tendency of skin to develop allergic reactions, while “dermatitis” derives from the greek word “derma” which refers to the swelling, inflammation and redness of skin. Although the term eczema is related to atopic dermatitis, eczema is actually the result of atopic dermatitis and can be created also from other causes.
Atopic dermatitis occurs mainly in infancy and may follow the person until adulthood. According to literature 15-30% of children and 2-10% of adults develop atopic dermatitis, which often coexists with allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis or food allergies.
Symptoms can vary from person to person, but most common are:
- Intense itching
- Hard skin with scabs
- Skin lesion with liquid flow
- Rash / eczema
Main etiological causes are genetic predisposition, contact with irritants / allergens and environmental factors such as cold, moisture and nutrition. Usually rashes occur in flexor areas of body, inside the elbows, behind the knees, and on the hands and feet. The symptoms are usually more intense in the afternoon. Scratching the skin can cause, redness, swelling,cracking, “weeping” clear fluid, crusting, thick skin and scaling. Other complications of eczema are skin infections, eye irritation, sleep disorders and asthma.
Skin has an outer layer made from epithelial cells which act as an impermeable barrier – protection against external agents (chemical or physical). Individuals suffering from atopic dermatitis have a barrier skin dysfunction, which makes skin susceptible to environmental exposures.
As precipitating causes of eczema may work:
- stress and bad psychology
- increased skin dryness due to poor hydration,
- contact with irritants such as soap, dust, smoke, perfumes, detergents, etc.
- perspiration and increased humidity
- food allergens such as eggs, peanuts, milk, soy, etc.
Practically there is no cure of disease. First and foremost, people with atopic dermatitis must notice which substances may exacerbate symptoms such as contact with woolen clothes, bleaches or softeners. There are products for atopic skin for both adults and infants, which take care, moisturize and clean the skin without irritating it. Nutritional supplements based on omega-6 fatty acids may help to reduce inflammation and promote skin restoration. In more severe cases corticosteroids, antibiotics and / or antihistamines may be needed.