Atopic dermatitis is a widespread disease of the skin that affects many people around the world and is usually hard to remove. It seems to be caused by a very high sensitivity (atopy) to allergies that also leads to other related diseases like chronic dermatitis, asthma or the respiratory allergies known as hay fever. People who come from families with a history of the disease have a higher risk of developing it due to a hereditary factor. Doctors usually ask about the family history regarding hay fever and asthma in order to diagnose the rashes. The name of the disease combines the Greek word atopic (which means strange), with the word dermatitis (which means a skin irritation). It also has other common names and is known as neurodermatitis.
The disease attacks the skin and produces strong inflammation, leading to itchiness, swelling, scales, crusts, weeping, redness and the development of vesicles or spontaneous blisters. All patients who suffer from atopic dermatitis also report having very dry skin.
This disease is usually found on babies and kids but it can appear at any age and it sometimes continues all the way to adulthood. It can also start at the adult age. In some cases, atopic dermatitis can emerge and disappear over long periods of time. At times, it can go in remission and the skin becomes free of warts or the disease even disappears completely. These periods can alternate with times when the condition returns in force, with the so-called flares when it actually becomes a lot worse. Usually, kids who suffer from the disease become healed after they become adults. However, former patients will normally have a dry and sensitive skin for the rest of their life.
While the causes of atopic dermatitis remain unknown, there are a number of factors that can exacerbate it or make its effects more severe. These can be cold weather conditions, dry air, allergies caused by seasonal factors and also contact with soap, detergent or other chemicals. People with an inherited genetic disease can have an outbreak at any time due to these factors. Dry climate and polluted urban conditions can also increase the risks. However, the disease becomes less severe with age and can even disappear completely, even if the skin remains quite easy to irritate. In rare cases, the disease continues into adulthood.
The root cause of atopic dermatitis is still a mystery but there are several factors that can influence it, which can be environmental, immune related or genetic.
Atopy is an allergic reaction with immediate effects that is classified among the type 1 hypersensitivity reactions. It is linked with atopic dermatitis as well as other related diseases such as hay fever, asthma or various food allergies. People who suffer from atopic dermatitis often have relatives with atopy.
Genetic research has revealed that one in three people who suffer from this disease have a mutation in a gene that triggers the production of filaggrin (FLG). This mutation also increases the risk of asthma. The compound has an important antiseptic effect on the skin because it increases its acidity, which kills pathogens. Filaggrin lowers the pH because it breaks into trans-urocanic acid.
The hygiene hypothesis assumes that too much precautions at a young age can actually harm children. The authors of this theory think that the immune system of kids becomes more robust if it fights allergens as early as possible, while kids who grow up in a modern septic environment become allergic when they are exposed to them later. The atopic dermatitis seems to validate this theory partially. It also appears that kids who grow up with dogs have a lower risk of disease. Kids with poor hygiene are also less likely to develop atopic dermatitis and the risk decreases even more if children drink natural unpasteurized milk. Epidemiological research has identified helminths as a possible counter for the disease.
In rare cases, the disease is started by an allergic sensitivity to food. Atopic dermatitis becomes more severe in the presence of allergens, which can be found in the air or in the food we eat. Dust mites are one of the main factors that can increase the severity of AD. At the same time, the condition is influenced by the diet. Fast food has a negative impact, while fruits and a healthy diet appear to have a positive one. In some rare cases, gluten is the main factor and food without gluten greatly improves the condition. In such cases, it is associated with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Another hypothesis links the disease with the hardness of tap water, or the amount of calcium carbonate found in it. Studies made on kids from different countries like Spain, Japan and the UK seem to lend some credibility to this theory.
An easy home remedy is to bathe once per day for five minutes in water that is warm without being too hot. Unless there is a lot of dirt, soap should not be used at all because it is a possible irritant.
These five minute baths in warm water are recommended for patients in all climates. After every bath don't use a towel and leave the skin wet, then apply a moisturizing product. Adults rarely have the time to bathe more than once or twice per day but young children can be washed three times daily.
It is important to apply a moisturizer before the skin dries off, right after a bath. Elma 01 Skin Ointment is a great choice because it calms the skin.