Atopic dermatitis (Eczema): Types, Symptoms, Causes, Risks, Complications, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

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Man with Atopic dermatitis (Eczema)

1Overview

Atopic dermatitis is a kind of skin disease that most children get. Atopic dermatitis is one of the types of eczema and is normally partnered with a hay fever or even asthma calling them the atopic triad. The “Atopic” word means there is a genetic tendency towards allergy. It can restrain the moist on the skin and may be the reason of redness, and itchiness of the skin. The difference between atopic dermatitis from the other type of eczema is that it usually appears on the cheeks, arms, and legs.

Sixty percent of patients who has atopic dermatitis is more likely to experience flares throughout there lives. It can also lower the immune system increasing the risk of having cataracts.

Eczema is a term that is always used whenever a condition has symptoms such as itchy and inflamed on the skin. Eczema is known to be a disorder that is not contagious

2Types

There are eight types of eczema and this is the:

Atopic dermatitis- a skin inflammation. It is the longest healing type of skin problem among the types of eczema.

Contact dermatitis- is when a person touches a thing that results in redness and irritation. Contact dermatitis has two types and that is:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis- when a patient comes into contact with the thing that has allergens.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis – happens when a person touches something that contains strong irritants.

Dyshidrotic eczema – usually happens during summer and spring the parts that will have this eczema is in the palm of the person’s hands and on the soles of their feet, it will have blisters and itchiness with an unknown cause.

Neurodermatitis or Lichen simplex chronicus – the most affected ones here are the women ranging from 20-50 years old. It is caused due to

Nummular eczema or discoid eczema – has a distinct characteristic and that is the scaly coined shape patch that is mostly found on the arms, legs, back and even buttocks. This mostly happens to elderly.

Seborrheic dermatitis – is a skin inflammation. To differentiate seborrheic dermatitis from the other, it has a yellowish, oily, and scaly patched that mostly can be found on the face and scalp and sometimes other parts of the body.

Stasis dermatitis is also known as varicose eczema is a skin irritation caused by the problem in the circulation called venous insufficiency and may cause edema at the lower legs. Stasis usually happens to middle-aged up to older adults.

Eczema Herpeticum is a skin infection that is caused by a herpes simplex virus and is mostly affect the face of a person.

3Symptoms

Atopic dermatitis has a different symptom according to the age of the patient.

In infants, atopic dermatitis can happen as early as two months old. And may have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Rashes can appear and can make the skin dry, itchy and scaly it can be found on the scalp, and face of an infant.
  • Infants can have trouble sleeping due to the constant rubbing caused by the rashes.
  • Some rushes have some oozing of liquid.

Children ages from 2 onwards have this kind of signs and symptoms.

  • Elbows and knees are the usual areas of rashes but sometimes rashes may also be seen in the wrists, neck, legs, ankles, and buttocks. Children will also feel itchy at this places where the rashes are.
  • Due to constant itching, it may thicken to protect itself also known as “lichenification” and may develop into knots.

Adults rarely get atopic dermatitis, and if ever they do this are the signs and symptoms may differ from the infants and children.

  • Atopic dermatitis may mostly be seen in the neck and face area.
  • Have dry skin, severe itchiness, scaly skin, and may lead to skin infection.

4Causes

There is no absolute cause for atopic dermatitis, but most of the patients who have this skin problem have a history of allergies within their family. The Environment may also be a cause of atopic dermatitis.

There some factors that can make atopic dermatitis much worse and this are:

  • Irritants – chemical product that can make the skin irritated and itchy.
  • Hormones – mostly women can have an increase and decrease in hormones.
  • Dry skin – dry skin may be an agent to have atopic dermatitis.
  • Emotional stress – can make a patient who has an atopic dermatitis condition worse.

5Risk Factors

Family history or hereditary is one of the major risk factors especially if one of the family members have asthma, allergic rhinitis, and allergies.

The environment is also one of the risk factors on having atopic dermatitis-like the detergents, soaps, perfumes, cosmetics, chemical products like bleach, and chlorine, dust. Seasons or climate or weather is also a risk factor for it may affect the moisture of the skin.

Age may also be a risk factor, 65% of the infants are at risk and already have symptoms for they have a weak immune system causing them to have eczema as early as their first childhood year. As they grow older patients who have eczema would be healed but 50% of them would likely to have the skin problem for the rest of their lives.

6Complications

  • Sleeping problems – mostly children and parents would be affected by a sleeping problem due to the constant scratching.
  • Physiological problems- children and adolescent will feel shy especially if a part of the skin with dermatitis will be visible.
  • Bacterial Infections- patients who have atopic dermatitis is more likely to have the bacterial infection such as Staphylococcus aureus and may worsen the infected part.

7Diagnosis

A doctor will immediately know if a patient has atopic dermatitis by doing a physical examination. A dermatologist or immunologist may be advising a patient to have allergy testing. A skin biopsy can also be advised by the doctor, a skin biopsy is a procedure wherein they would be taking a small skin from the patient and would be tested. Skin swab would also be taken to test for Staphylococcus.

8Treatment

There are no cures for topical dermatitis but there are things that can ease the symptoms. Atopic dermatitis may take days, months or even years before being healed.

Moisturizers – since atopic dermatitis can make the skin dry, moisturizers can be a substitute for the moisture that was lost.

Topical corticosteroids – it is a cream and ointment that help reduce the swelling and redness of the skin. This creams can cause side effects on the patient like the thinning of the skin, skin darkening, hair growth and acne.

Antihistamine – can be used to ease the itchiness.

Notify the doctor in case one of the family members has eczema too.

If the inflammation does not decrease for the next seven days, call the doctor.

Immediately notify the doctor in case there is a yellow substance that has appeared on the rushes.

There are a few practices that can help patients from further hurting themselves like:

  • Reduce scratching – if patients keep on scratching the area where the dermatitis is then most likely will cause skin infection. Continuous scratching may cause bleeding. A patient can lightly scratch the skin if ever the itchiness becomes too much.
  • Cut nails – Patients can’t stop from scratching, patients would be advised to continually check if their nails are short to avoid unintentional scratching that may lead to bleeding.
  • Avoid using strong chemicals – Patients with atopic dermatitis do have a very sensitive skin. Using strong chemical would likely harm them even more.
  • Clean house regularly – Dust can also be an additional cause of atopic dermatitis.
  • Diet – patients must avoid eating foods such as eggs and chicken because they have agents that can further make the itchiness worse.
  • Look warm bath can help the skin from further infection.
  • When choosing clothes always look for clothes that have soft fabrics.
  • Atopic dermatitis can be treated by being exposed to ultraviolet light. Phototherapy and Psoralen plus ultraviolet light therapy are the two types of ultraviolet light therapy.

Other therapies:

  • Acupressure can relieve tension or stress that can or may trigger the infected skin to be much worse.
  • Aromatherapy uses essential oils that can help reduce skin inflammation.
  • Regular walks can help balance the health.
  • Having stress therapy can help prevent skin inflammation from getting worse.

9Prevention

  • Breastfeeding can boost the immune system of the baby to reduce them from having dermatitis.
  • Before letting the infant eat for the first time, mothers must consult their doctors if their child can eat foods such as nuts, eggs, milk, soy, and wheat.
  • Moisturize the skin, by using moisturizers may prevent atopic dermatitis from happening.
  • Know what kind of chemical to use when taking a bath, cleaning the house and clothes.
  • Avoid activities that can cause sweat.
  • Complimentary therapies – herbal remedies can help in treating the patients’ skin problem but they should talk to their specialists first before undergoing these therapies.