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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