Getting Tested for Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, also referred to as eczema, is a chronic skin condition caused by a fungus and causes red, flaky, and itchy rashes. While it is not life-threatening or contagious, it is relatively common, affecting approximately 30 million Americans alone.

Symptoms differ in terms of their severity in every patient – some people with the condition exhibit mild symptoms that can be improved with over-the-counter medications, whereas others require more aggressive approaches to treatment. In most cases, however, atopic dermatitis is treatable and manageable.

The hallmark symptom is severe itching, which can be so severe that it can lead to infected blisters, especially if scratched. Atopic dermatitis rashes most commonly appear red, dry, and scaly and are made worse by scratching. With the right treatment and avoiding scratching at all costs, it is possible to prevent atopic dermatitis breakouts.

Atopic Dermatitis Diagnosis and Tests

Diagnosing the problem is also relatively simple as medical professionals can generally tell it apart based on a patient’s complaints and the appearance of their rashes. Some doctors may ask for a skin biopsy to rule out other conditions that result in similar symptoms.

The infection is the immune system overreacting to allergens, which is why it is also closely associated with hay fever, allergies, and asthma. In fact, most people who develop atopic dermatitis usually have a family history of one or some of these conditions, and these can also co-occur. Some environmental triggers that cause atopic dermatitis symptoms are dust mites, cleaning products and soaps that contain harsh irritants, animal dander, and cold weather.

While medical professionals can diagnose it based on an examination, they may also recommend allergy tests to pinpoint triggers. Testing for allergies is especially common when an individual also has asthma or respiratory allergies such as allergic rhinitis.

Furthermore, these tests can also discover whether you have any food allergies that can worsen your symptoms or cause frequent outbreaks. Avoiding environmental triggers and cutting out trigger foods will help you manage atopic dermatitis more effective long-term.

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Medicating Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis treatment differs depending on the severity of rashes. In mild atopic dermatitis cases, daily moisturizing and avoiding triggers can be enough to prevent outbreaks and improve itching.

However, in more severe cases where rashes are infected with pus-filled blisters, consulting a doctor for a more aggressive approach to treatment is necessary. Proper care and early treatment can both relieve you of symptoms more efficiently and prevent the rashes from worsening.

Atopic dermatitis medications can also be effective in relieving the itching and alleviate the rashes. Atopic dermatitis in children and adults is manageable with medications and home remedies, but it is a condition that is characterized by durations of remissions and outbreaks.

Keeping your body hydrated by drinking lots of water is vital in addition to keeping your skin hydrated by moisturizing with a scent-free moisturizer daily. Avoiding allergens like dust, pollen, soaps and cleaning products with irritants, and animal dander also helps in controlling atopic dermatitis symptoms.

Atopic Dermatitis Medication Options

The most commonly used medications are topical ointments. However, there are also other options such as antihistamines and corticosteroids, which can be taken orally.

– Antihistamines can improve itching. Since they often cause drowsiness, they can also be a sleep aid when the itching is intolerable at night. When atopic dermatitis causes rashes on many parts of the body, oral corticosteroids may be used to improve the symptoms.

– Coal tar is used to improve symptoms of many skin conditions, including seborrheic and atopic dermatitis. For rashes that are not overly irritated, application of coal tar may relieve itching.

– While they come with various risks such as weakening the immune system, calcineurin inhibitors, which are topical medications, may be prescribed as a last resort under close monitoring. Cyclosporine can also be recommended in a case where no other treatment has been effective.

– In the event of an infection, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible to go on antibiotics or antivirals to prevent the rashes from getting worse.

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What Causes Atopic Dermatitis

what causes atopc dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, also known referred to as atopic eczema, occurs due to the skin’s inability to retain moisture, which results in red, dry, and itchy skin that can also often get irritated. Atopic dermatitis most commonly affects people with a family history of atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, other allergies, and asthma. So, what causes atopic dermatitis?

While atopic dermatitis has a genetic component, some environmental triggers can also exacerbate atopic dermatitis symptoms, including allergens such as dust mites, food allergies, soaps and cleaning products with harsh chemicals, animal dander, too much stress, infections, and dry and cold weather.

Understanding the Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis

Typically, atopic dermatitis’ primary symptoms are dryness and itching. Scratching worsens the itch and dryness and leads to more irritation and can even result in infections that appear as pus-filled bumps.

Atopic dermatitis symptoms heal and recur as it is common for people with the condition to experience periods of remission and outbreaks. Repeated rashes on the same parts of the body may result in the roughening and thickening of the skin.

In mild atopic dermatitis cases, the affected areas are minimal and daily moisturizing, drinking enough water, and over-the-counter ointments can suffice to improve symptoms. However, when atopic dermatitis is severe, only daily moisturizing and sufficient hydration are not enough to battle dryness and itching.

The parts of the body that atopic dermatitis affects also varies depending on individual factors. Infants tend to experience symptoms on the scalp, cheeks, elbows, and knees, whereas children typically exhibit rashes on the wrists, neck, legs, ankles, and the buttocks.

Atopic Dermatitis Diagnosis

Diagnosing atopic dermatitis is relatively easy as doctors can often reach a diagnosis based on symptoms, medical history, and a physical examination. Your doctor may also help you in pinpointing the triggers that cause atopic dermatitis rashes.

Atopic Dermatitis Causes

The root cause of atopic dermatitis is not entirely understood, but genetics and environmental factors play a role in the development of the disease. What research shows is that atopic dermatitis is caused by the immune system’s overreaction to various allergens.

Most common culprits that cause atopic dermatitis symptoms such as rashes with itching and irritation include dust mites, animal dander, and pollen. Soaps, cosmetics, and cleaning products with harsh irritants can also trigger atopic dermatitis symptoms.

Abrupt weather changes, especially cold and dry weather can also result in atopic dermatitis outbreaks. Stress, anxiety, and bathing or showering frequently can also contribute to itching and dryness.

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Using Phototherapy to Treat Atopic Dermatitis

Phototherapy to Treat Atopic Dermatitis

Phototherapy involves the exposure of ultraviolet light to the skin to treat various skin conditions. They even use phototherapy to treat atopic dermatitis. There are two types of ultraviolet light, both also present in the sunlight, Ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA). Phototherapy can involve the use of either or both depending on the case and severity of symptoms.

The therapy is done using booths that give off the ultraviolet light. Protecting the eyes during the session is important as the UV light can damage the eyes. Due to a high risk of genital cancer, men must also protect their genitals during the therapy. As effective as phototherapy is, long-term use is also associated with skin cancer.

Phototherapy for Atopic Dermatitis

Phototherapy can be highly effective in atopic dermatitis of all severity levels. Even though sometimes UVA or UVB light alone can be used, a combination of both is more effective. Phototherapy can also keep bacterial infections at bay, which is a common occurrence among individuals with atopic dermatitis.

Understanding Phototherapy

Typically, phototherapy is administered a couple of times weekly. UVB treatment only takes a few minutes tops, whereas UVA therapy can take up to 20 minutes.

Combining UV light therapy with the medication psoralen, which is referred to as PUVA, is also a standard approach to treatment. This drug increases the skin’s sensitivity to light to enhance the efficacy of the light therapy. However, psoralen increases the risks of phototherapy as well and requires much closer care and supervision.

Does Phototherapy Have Any Risks?

Prolonged phototherapy is associated with some risks, including skin cancer as the UV light administered is the same thing as the sun rays. Some people may also experience burns and scarring. The use of goggles in the booth is also essential since the UV light increases the risk of cataracts.

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Caring for Atopic Dermatitis

Caring for Atopic Dermatitis

Affecting nearly 15 million Americans, atopic dermatitis is a form of eczema and typically appears infants and children but is also common among adult. Having a family history of atopic dermatitis, allergies, and asthma increase one’s chances of developing atopic dermatitis. Here are our 5 tips for caring for atopic dermatitis.

While it is not a serious condition, atopic dermatitis can cause severe itching and some irritation, so here are some tips that can help you manage these symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

#1 No scratching

Scratching worsens atopic dermatitis lesions and can even result in infected blisters. It can be hard to resist, but once you begin, it can be difficult to stop. Avoid scratching your rashes at all cost. You can also clip your nails regularly to ensure not to incur too much damage when you unwittingly scratch, which can also reduce the risk of infections.

#2 Use fragrance-free soap and shower less

Shower and bathe with scent-free soap as well that is devoid of irritants like Cetaphil. Also, try to prevent your shampoo from making contact with the rest of your body. Discuss your bathing or showering regimen with your primary physician as you may need to bathe a lot less to avoid dryness.

Hot water can also be an irritant so shower with lukewarm water that feels comfortable on your skin. Ask your doctor for eczema-friendly bath oil recommendations that you can use to draw a lukewarm bath, which can soothe and moisturize your skin.

#3 Moisturize and protect your skin

Protecting your hands while cleaning and doing the dishes with gloves to avoid exposure to irritants is vital since harsh chemicals found in cleaning supplies and soaps can trigger dryness and rashes. It is also essential to moisturize with a sensitive skin-friendly and scent-free moisturizer on a daily basis after a shower.

#4 Choose comfortable, loose clothes

Clothes that can lead to too much sweating are problematic and cause irritation and itching. Opt for cotton clothes that are loose-fitting and comfortable to let your skin breathe and avoid irritation. Also, go for light and comfortable socks that allow your skin to breathe to prevent irritation.

#5 Manage stress and follow your treatment

Your emotional and psychological state also impact how severe atopic dermatitis can be. Too much stress and mood disorders such as depression can cause outbreaks and worsen atopic dermatitis. Follow your doctor’s instructions to a T and apply topical treatments to relieve itching and irritation instead of scratching.

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Atopic Dermatitis Vs. Other Types of Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis

Dermatitis is a skin condition that is typically triggered by environmental triggers. There is a number of different dermatitis types, but they usually all exhibit themselves with red, itchy, and dry rashes or blisters on the skin. Here are some of the most common dermatitis types, including atopic dermatitis.

Understanding Dermatitis Types

The three most common dermatitis types are contact, atopic, and seborrheic, and they can also all be referred to as eczema. There are also neurodermatitis and perioral dermatitis, which can also be considered as eczema, and stasis dermatitis causes both eczema and acne. Stasis dermatitis typically results in rashes in the ankles that can be itchy and infected, whereas perioral dermatitis causes inflamed blisters around the mouth.

What Is Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is chronic and caused by the immune system overreacting to allergens and resulting in inflammation and rashes. People with a family history of asthma or hay fever are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis. The parts of the body that are most commonly affected by atopic dermatitis rashes are the elbows and knees, and they come with periods of remissions and breakouts. Atopic dermatitis patches are typically dry, red, flaky, and itchy. Scratching may worsen the rashes and lead to infections, however.

What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic condition and commonly known as dandruff when it primarily affects the scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis, in fact, most often affects the scalp, neck, and upper back and causes redness and itching. A fungus causes seborrheic dermatitis, so treating it requires antifungal medicines. Shampoos and topical medications that contain tar also improve seborrheic dermatitis symptoms.

What Is Contact Dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is more like an allergic reaction as it occurs due to skin contact with allergens and irritants in those with sensitivity to certain substances like essential oils, poison ivy, and soaps. Contact dermatitis often develops due to occupational reasons. In some cases, rashes only appear after repeated exposure to irritants.

Similar to atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis causes red and severely itchy rashes that can also very likely become crusty and pus-filled. Contact dermatitis can affect any part of the skin, and the irritant type is the worst kind as it can almost feel like a burn. In most cases, antihistamines, moisturizing, and over-the-counter corticosteroids relieve contact dermatitis symptoms.

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Treating Atopic Dermatitis

Treating Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema, is a chronic condition that results in red, flaky, and itchy patches on the skin. Though atopic dermatitis does not have a cure, there are many standard treatment options available to manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Avoiding harsh chemicals and irritants as well as moisturizing daily is important with atopic dermatitis. Here are common ways to improve symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Let’s look at a few options for treating atopic dermatitis.

Natural Treatments

Trying to manage your symptoms with natural, at-home treatments should your first course of action. In mild atopic dermatitis cases, over-the-counter relief medications and lifestyle modifications can relieve symptoms and prevent severe outbreaks. In more severe cases, though, prescription-strength medicines combined with lifestyle changes may be needed to keep the condition under control.

Moisturizing daily is an essential part of managing the dryness that atopic dermatitis causes.  Drinking lots of water is also important to battle dryness. You should drink at least eight glasses of water a day and opt for a scent-free moisturizer that is typically used for sensitive skin.

Pinpointing case-specific triggers is also a critical step in preventing flare-ups, and in most cases, food allergies, dust, chemicals, animal dander, cleaning products, and pollutants are the culprit.

Topical Medications

Topical treatments are another commonly used approach to managing atopic dermatitis rashes, which can be over-the-counter or prescription-strength depending on the severity of your case. In most cases, doctors prescribe stronger ointments where milder options prove to be ineffective.

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams are usually used to relieve itching and inflammation. If these options do not work, corticosteroids may be the last resort, which is a potent medication whose long-term use can have adverse side effects.

When none of these topical treatment options prove to be effective, your doctor may also recommend calcineurin inhibitors to prevent flare-ups and to improve the appearance of the skin. These inhibitors also come with adverse side effects such as higher risk of developing skin cancer.

Oral Treatments

Antihistamines, which are typically used for allergies, can improve atopic dermatitis-related itching and reduce inflammation. Alternatively, your doctor may recommend oral corticosteroids to relieve these symptoms.

Phototherapy

Phototherapy is another common way to improve atopic dermatitis symptoms, which entails exposing the affected areas to ultraviolet light. Phototherapy, when done regularly, can prevent frequent breakouts and lessen the severity of symptoms. Regular exposure to the sunlight in moderation can also improve symptoms. Unfortunately, long-term use of phototherapy can increase the risk of skin cancer.

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Atopic Dermatitis Explained

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, also known as atopic eczema, is a chronic condition that is characterized by long-lasting red, itchy rashes. Though not serious or contagious, atopic dermatitis is quite common, affecting over 30 million people in the United States alone.

Symptoms can vary in level of severity in every individual; some experience mild enough symptoms that can be managed with over-the-counter topical medicines while others need stronger options and possible lifestyle changes. Atopic dermatitis is easily manageable in most cases but can have detrimental effects on an individual’s daily life and emotional state.  

Diagnosis is relatively straightforward as the doctors can often tell it apart based on symptoms and an examination. In some cases, a biopsy may be needed to ensure it is not another condition with similar symptoms.

Understanding Atopic Dermatitis Symptoms

The most common symptom is the chronic itching, which is often severe and can result in rashes. Rashes typically appear red, flaky, and dry. Scratching always worsens the rashes and can even cause infections. With proper care and treatment, flare-ups and severe symptoms are avoidable as long as people never scratch their rashes regardless of how intense it may be.

What Causes Atopic Dermatitis?

Researchers still haven’t pinned down the exact cause. However, it is believed that genetics play a significant role as people with a family history of atopic eczema are at an increased risk of developing it.

Environmental factors such as allergens, pollen, chemicals, cosmetics, dust, and mold can also trigger atopic dermatitis flare-ups and symptoms. Food allergies, too much stress, and cold weather can also bring about severe atopic dermatitis symptoms.

Treating Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is incurable, but with the right treatment, preventing outbreaks and symptoms is possible. In mild atopic dermatitis cases, moisturizing daily can prevent dryness and itching associated with the condition. Pinpointing triggers that cause flare-ups can also help in finding the proper treatment and foolproof prevention.

In more advanced cases, over-the-counter antihistamines are used to relieve itching. Although antihistamines do not work against skin rashes, by relieving itching, they may prevent the worsening of the rashes. To target both inflammation and itching, it is a commonplace practice to use topical hydrocortisone in combination with antihistamines as well.

If over-the-counter treatment options do not improve your symptoms, the next step is usually corticosteroids. However, due to their adverse side effects, corticosteroids cannot be used long-term.

Since it can cause emotional distress, it is also recommended people with the condition seek counseling to cope with the feelings of depression, stress, and self-image issues.

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