What is Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema?
Eczema often begins in infancy after the baby is weaned from breast milk and is characterized by an inflammation of the skin, usually associated with blisters, red bumps, swelling, oozing, scaling, crusting, and itching. In infants two to 18 months, it appears as weeping, crusty red spots on the face, scalp, and extremities.\
In older children and adults, it may be more localized and chronic. Eczema often subsides by age three or four, but may reoccur in adolescence or adulthood as a skin condition or other allergy.
Eczema most frequently occurs in families with a history of allergies. Between 10% and 15% of the U.S. population has experienced eczema during childhood, half during the first year of life.
Main Aspects of Atopic Dermatitis
- Atopic dermatitis or eczema is chronic and considered to be inherited. It causes inflammatation of skin with symptoms including areas of itchy dry, reddened skin.
- Atopic dermatitis is not contagious.
- Avoid the triggers such as heat and environmental irritants, heat and in some cases particular foods can ve triggers.
- Skin affected by eczema is vulnerable to infection such as impetigo, warts and cold sores.
- Treatment options include corticosteroids, moisturizers, coal tar, pimecrolimus cream, ultraviolet radiation therapy (phototherapy) and oral anti-inflammatory medication.
- If the condition deteriorates it wise to seek medical advice.
Eczema-triggering allergens include cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, fish, wheat, soybean, dust mites, fabrics, plastics, smoke, chemicals ‘eh as fluoride, and items containing orris root (face powder, creams, cosmetics, perfume, scented soap or Shampoo, shaving cream, teething rings, and toothpaste). Conventional treatment is usually with a topical cortisone cream and may include antihistamines.
Complications of Eczema
The intact healthy skin surface is the best defense against skin infections. A person suffering with eczema is more prone to viral and bacterial infections including:
- Staphylococcus aureus – causes impetigo. This condition thrives on areas skin affected by eczema. The infection causes inflamed blisters that weep, pop, and can form crusts. Treatments include antibiotic tablets and antiseptic creams.
- Herpes simplex virus commonly referred to as cold sores. Cold sores can easily spread over wide areas. See your medical practitioner for early treatment
- Warts – raised lumps usually small, caused by a viral infection. Warts will often clear up by themselves, but can take sometime – up to 12 months.
Urticaria (Hives)—Up to 20% of the U.S. population has experienced an outbreak of hives. Known technically as urticaria, hives are characterized by eruptions of red, raised, swollen welts t hat can appear on any part of the body but tend to cluster on the arms, legs, and trunk.
They resemble mosquito bites and vary in size. Extremely itchy, they spread when scratched and can last from hours to days.
Common triggers are drugs, such as penicillin, aspirin, sulfur, anticonvulsive drugs, and Phenobarbital.
Other common allergens include strawberries, shellfish, peanuts, soy, beef, citrus, tomatoes, milk, eggs, and various chemicals found in laundry soaps, fabric softeners, and cosmetics. Insect stings, pollens, molds, dust, and animal dander may also spark hives, and sometimes sunlight or cold weather will heighten the reaction.
Hives are conventionally treated with cortisone creams, antihistamines, and other anti-inflammatory drugs