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Updated: Jan 23, 2023

What is Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis, more well known as eczema, is a chronic dermatological skin condition. Atopic dermatitis is a common and usually manageable skin condition that appears as a red, itchy rash. The condition can be mild or severe, depending on the location of the rash and whether itching is intense. It tends to come and go and can start at any age.

Fun Fact: Atopy is a prefix that means “second placed,” and this is where the term atopic comes from. Dermatitis is also Greek in origin, with derma meaning “skin” and itis, “inflammation.” Atopic dermatitis is the combination of both of these words to describe inflammation that occurs on top of the skin

What causes Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis can occur for several reasons. It is a chronic autoimmune condition that can cause your body to feel dry and itchy. Our immune system overreacts and our skin barrier bears the consequence. For certain individuals, there is a genetic component involved, this is still being studied.

While the specific reason for why Atopic Dermatitis exists is unknown there are several factors studied that have been found to trigger an eczema flare.

Some of these may include:

1. irritants – such as soaps and detergents, including shampoo, washing-up liquid and bubble bath, fragrances

2. environmental factors or allergens – such as cold and dry weather, dampness; and more specific things such as house dust mites, pet fur, pollen and molds.

3. Your immune system, If you have eczema, your immune system overreacts to small irritants or allergens (triggers) in your environment.

4. Your mental health. High levels of stress, sadness, or anxiety may cause a flare.

5. food allergies – such as allergies to eggs, nuts, milk, wheat

6. certain materials worn next to the skin, such as synthetic fabrics

7. Infections to the skin

Fun Fact: The word "eczema" comes from a Greek origin to signify "boiling over" The skin becomes inflamed, itchy reflecting the given name

What does it feel and look like?

Atopic dermatitis can appear anywhere on the body, but it most commonly appears on the scalp, face, neck and upper arms. Symptoms include dry skin, itchiness, rash in combination with swollen skin, small raised bumps, thickened skin and sensitivity to touch.

How Common is Atopic Dermatitis?

Very common! For individuals, continuity of the disease varies. For some, it may come and go seasonally. For certain individuals, it may come once and never come again. For others, it may become a chronic life-long condition. According to The National Eczema Foundation, "31.6 million people (10.1%) in the U.S. have some form of eczema, and prevalence peaks during early childhood.” For treatment and care, individuals must seek a board-certified dermatologist, as treatment is dependent on location, age, and severity.

Is there a Cure?

Currently, there is no cure for Atopic Dermatitis. However, there are substantial medications available to help control it. With current onging studies in medicine,Your skin is the most exposed part of your body, which means it’s prone to problems. If your skin has been acting up lately or if you think it has something more serious than a mild rash, head over to your local board certified- dermatologist for a diagnosis and treatment option that works for you.

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-Dr. Del Campo

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