About Atopic Dermatitis

dermatite atopica sulle gambe

What is atopic dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis, also called atopic eczema, is an inflammatory, non-infectious skin condition. The epithet “atopic” underlines the absence of a precise skin location, in fact the term derives from the Greek “a-topos“, which means “without a precise place”.

The onset of this disease often coincides with paediatric age and tends to become chronic in adulthood, although it can go into complete remission for long periods of time.

The symptoms of atopic dermatitis

The pathology manifests itself with areas of skin that are particularly dry and reddened, itchy and subject to cracking and flaking.

The skin lesions, also caused by the fact that the subject is unable to avoid continuously rubbing the affected area, range from mild erythema to severe lichenification, a considerable thickening of the skin.

dermatite atopica prurito

Complications and disorders associated with atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is often associated with allergic diseases such as rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, bronchial asthma and food allergies.

Because of the continuous scratching, the skin is even more susceptible to secondary bacterial infections such as Streptococcus and Staphylococcus, which penetrate the skin more easily and find a suitable place for their proliferation.

There is also a relationship between skin disease and seasonality, as a higher incidence of atopic dermatitis has been recorded in the winter months, while in summer it tends to regress. In fact, the sun can help to reduce the disorder but without going overboard and after applying high protection sunscreens with sun filters.

dermatite atopica bambini

Atopic dermatitis in children and adults

Atopic dermatitis is the most common dermatological disease among children and newborn: in 90% of cases, its onset is in the first 5 years of life, in 65% during the first year of life. The disease tends to regress over time, especially during adolescence, but in about 40% of cases it persists into adulthood and becomes chronic.

In children, the most affected areas are:

  • the face (cheeks in particular);
  • flexural folds (elbows and knees);
  • hands.

In adults, the pathology has a chronic-reversing course (alternation of acute phases and periods of remission) and manifests itself:

  • in the perioral area;
  • on the eyelids;
  • on the head;
  • on the back of the hands.
dermatite e allergia

Causes of atopic dermatitis

The causes of atopic dermatitis are many and varied, for this reason it’s defined as a multifactorial disorder. In its appearance are involved constitutional, genetic and environmental factors, capable of altering the skin barrier by modifying the metabolism of lipids present in the epidermis.

People with atopic dermatitis are particularly sensitive to emotional stress and environmental stress, such as:

  • pollution;
  • allergens (pollen, dust, dust mites);
  • wool and synthetic fabrics;
  • aggressive detergents.

People who suffer from it show a propensity to develop allergies with a tendency to increase blood IgE levels, antibodies that stimulate the histamine’s production, an organic molecule and chemical mediator that causes rashes and itching.

Skin dryness seems to be due to alterations in the activity of the enzyme 6-gamma-reductase, involved in the metabolism of omega 6, essential acid degrees that contribute to the physiological maintenance of the hydrolipidic film, our skin protection barrier.

Diagnosis, treatments and advice

The diagnosis requires personal and family history (atopic dermatitis is easily found in several members of the same family), clinical analysis of the lesions by the dermatologist, allergy tests are also useful in cases where inhalation, contact or food allergens play a decisive role in triggering the skin disease.

Complete resolution of the disorder isn’t very common, especially in adults. Possible remedies are:

  • Pharmaceutical formulations (creams, lotions, foams) based on corticosteroids;
  • Emollient cream without allergenic or irritating substances (such as perfume) that contribute to the maintenance of the hydrolipidic film;
  • Antihistamines and antibiotics, antiseptic substances;
  • Phototherapy.

To alleviate the symptoms it’s also useful to take a few simple measures:

  • Take care of the skin and body hygiene with delicate, non-aggressive products target to sensitive skin;
  • Use cotton or natural fibre clothing, avoiding synthetic fabrics and clothes that are too tight;
  • Use high-quality, fragrance-free cosmetics and make-up products.
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