Atopic Dermatitis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

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Atopic dermatitis is a skin condition that affects nearly 15-20% of children and 1-3% of adults worldwide. Atopic dermatitis falls under the umbrella category of what’s more commonly known as eczema. Eczema is often used to describe the condition of atopic dermatitis, though it is just one type of eczema. According to the National Eczema Organization, 18 million adults and almost 10 million children under the age of 18 experience in the United States experience atopic dermatitis. Below, we’ll get into the nitty gritty about what atopic dermatitis is, some of its underlying causes, as well as how to treat it.

What is atopic dermatitis?

As we mentioned above, atopic dermatitis is a skin condition belonging to the larger category of skin conditions that fall under the name eczema. Atopic dermatitis is characterized by red, itchy patches on your skin. It is common in children, but can occur at any age. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic condition, meaning it happens periodically, but is a long-lasting issue.

What causes atopic dermatitis?

According to the National Eczema Association, atopic dermatitis is caused by an issue in the immune system and issues with the skin’s barrier being able to protect it from daily pollutants, bacteria, allergens, and other irritants present in daily life. This allows your skin to be more affected by these environmental factors. Food allergies can also play a role.

Atopic Dermatitis Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis differ greatly from person to person. These symptoms include:

  • Itching—often severe—which can worsen at night

  • Skin dryness

  • Red patches, which are most common on hands, feet, wrists, chest, face, ankles, and inside the creases of elbows and knees

  • Infants most commonly experience red, itchy patches on their faces and scalps

  • The appearance of scaly skin which can crack and become more red and sensitive from scratching while itchy—especially for children

Atopic Dermatitis Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no real “cure” for atopic dermatitis, however there are different things you can do to control your symptoms.

  • Topical Creams: your doctor or dermatologist may prescribe a topical cream that contains cortisol and steroids to help control your itching and help repair any skin damage.

  • Antibiotics: Your doctor may recommend taking an oral or topical antibiotic to fight infection if your skin has any open sores or cracks that may be exposed to bacteria.

  • Oral Anti-Inflammatory Medications: For more severe cases of atopic dermatitis, your doctor may recommend an oral medication to fight inflammation such as prednisone.

  • Lifestyle Changes: You can also work to control flare-ups from your atopic dermatitis with lifestyle changes like taking shorter and cooler baths and showers, using only gentle soaps, drying yourself carefully, avoiding certain foods, etc.

Atopic dermatitis can be an irritating and uncomfortable condition when not controlled, but with the help of a well-trained dermatologist you can devise a treatment plan to effectively manage the condition. Call Academic Alliance in Dermatology today for a consultation with a Tampa dermatologist who can help!