World Allergy Week 2018: atopic dermatitis

What is atopic dermatitis?

World Allergy Week 2018: atopic dermatitis

It’s officially World Allergy Week 2018, and this year the World Allergy Organization are focusing on raising awareness for atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema. We are going to aid them in this task by discussing what atopic dermatitis is, its effects, and its treatments.

What is it?

Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease. It affects people of all ages but more commonly begins during infancy and childhood. Sometimes you can outgrow it before adulthood, but it can also last into adulthood or begin during adulthood.

Atopic dermatitis disrupts the skin’s ability to hold moisture. It makes it itchy and red, with small blisters or oozing. In its chronic form, the skin may appear darkened, dry and thick. These symptoms are very uncomfortable for people living with the condition. This includes up to 5-30% of children and 1-10% of adults globally.

The discomfort is only one effect of atopic dermatitis. The changes it makes to the skin can also cause problems with self-esteem and mental well-being. This is particularly worrying for those in vulnerable groups, like children. Also, proper ongoing treatment requires a lot of attention, time, and care which can be disruptive and annoying in people’s everyday lives.

Where does it come from?

So what causes atopic dermatitis? There are several factors at play here. It is the most common chronic skin condition and is often genetically transmitted. It can be triggered by temperature and humidity, harsh soaps and detergents, weather changes, stress, microbial infections, lack of sleep, and allergens. Atopic dermatitis as a reaction to a food allergen is most common in children. But other allergens like dust mites, animal dander, and inhalant allergens can also trigger it.

Most people who have atopic dermatitis have a family or personal history of allergies. It’s often one of the first signs of allergic hypersensitivity during the first months with other allergies likely to follow. These frequently include a food allergy, hay fever, or asthma. But if you catch the symptoms early in childhood, dermatologists and allergists may be able to prevent or modify the development of new allergies and the experience of existing ones.

Treatment

Even if you receive no preventative treatment, there are other treatments available for people with atopic dermatitis surrounding trigger avoidance, medications, and skin care. The use of these approaches will depend on the severity of the disease. Treatments may include topical corticosteroids, topical calcineurin inhibitors, immunosuppressants, antihistamines, phototherapy, biological therapy, oral corticosteroids, or bleach baths and triclosan washes.

The hope with these treatments is that they will reduce the negative impacts of atopic dermatitis on quality of life. It can be chronic, disturb your sleep, make you self-conscious, limit your daily activities, impact your relationships, and make you susceptible to infections and viruses. These effects combine to make day to day life challenging and less enjoyable. In this case, any potential treatments to avoid the problems atopic dermatitis causes are essential.

To get involved with World Allergy Week, connect with us on twitter @Allergy_London using the #WorldAllergyWeek tag and help spread awareness of atopic dermatitis. To make an appointment with one of our specialist consultants, book online today. London Allergy & Immunology Centre can provide you with comprehensive allergy tests and the best treatment for you.

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