What is atopic eczema or dermatitis?
Atopic eczema or dermatitis is a chronic, itchy skin condition that is very common symptom of conditions such as childhood eczema but may occur at any age. Atopic dermatitis usually occurs 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.
What causes atopic eczema or dermatitis?
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.
What does it look like?
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.
How can I treat it?
Treatment may be required for many months and possibly years. It nearly always requires:
- Reduction of exposure to trigger factors (where possible)
- Regular use of emollients such as exederm intensive moisture cream
- Intermittent topical steroids such as exederm flare control cream
How can I avoid it?
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. Click for more information on irritants.