Atopic dermatitis may occur in people who have other allergic problems such as asthma and hay fever. Often these conditions run within families with a parent, child or sibling also affected.
There is no known single cause, it is probably a combination of factors. There are many theories and much on-going research regarding the underlying mechanisms. It is thought to arise because of a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors including skin irritants, the weather, temperature and non-specific triggers. Psychological stresses can provoke or aggravate it.
There is quite a variation in the appearance of atopic conditions. Most people have acute flare-ups with inflamed red areas, sometimes with blistered and weepy patches or skin rash. In between flare-ups, the skin may appear normal or suffer from chronic dry, thickened and itchy areas.
Treatment may be required for many months and possibly years. It nearly always requires:
Watch out for common chemical irritants that may trigger an atopic eczema flare-up. Often ingredients found in well known personal care or cosmetic brands can irritate. Even some brands labeled 'hypoallergenic', 'sensitive' or 'natural' contain unnecessary additives & harsh chemicals.
For liquid cleansers such as body washes, hand washes or shampoo watch out for SLS (sodium laureth sulfate) or CAPB (cocamidopropyl betaine) - both of these ingredients have been known to trigger contact dermatitis.