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Definition

Atopic dermatitis is a disease that affects the skin. The word "atopic" means there is a tendency for excess inflammation in the skin and linings of the nose and lungs. It cannot be passed from one person to another. It is very common in children but may occur at any age. Children affected by AD may suffer from asthma and hay fever at the same time, or one or both of these conditions may develop later. It affects 10% to 20% of infants in the United States. Atopic dermatitis is the eighth most common disease in people under 25 years of age. Originally controversial, the association of food allergy with atopic dermatitis has now been clearly demonstrated, especially in severe disease of infancy.

Causes

There is no known single cause for atopic dermatitis. Probably it represents more than one condition. It is believed to be a combination of environmental and genetic factors. The exact cause of AD is not known. Research has shown that a person is more likely to have AD if parents or other family members have ever had AD, hayfever, asthma, or food allergies. In the past, doctors thought that atopic dermatitis was caused by an emotional disorder. We now know that emotional factors, such as stress, can make the condition worse, but they do not cause the disease. Atopic dermatitis is not contagious. The skin cells seem to lose their barrier function so that water is lost from the skin and irritants can penetrate into it. Bacteria, yeasts and viruses on the skin surface can either cause eczema or provoke allergy. Many workers are at an increased risk for allergic dermatitis because they are exposed to many known allergens and irritants.

Symptoms

Atopic dermatitis is very common. It affects males and females equally and accounts for 10 to 20 percent of all referrals to dermatologists. Atopic dermatitis occurs most often in infants and children and its onset decreases substantially with age.
The main symptom of atopic dermatitis is itching. The itching can be start in night. The extreme itchiness of the skin causes the person to scratch, which in turn worsens the itch, and so on. Itching is particularly a problem during sleep, when conscious control of scratching decreases and the absence of other outside stimuli makes the itchiness more noticeable.

Treatment

Treatment of atopic dermatitis is dependent mainly on reduction of itching and scratching through moisturizing the skin.
Topical steroids prescribed to reduce skin itching. Topical steroids come in four strengths: mild, moderately potent, potent, and very potent. To use these types of steroid firstly you have to go to your nearest doctor who prescribe you these medicine, depends on several factors, including the severity of the condition.

Medications for atopic dermatitis include:

  • Skin creams or ointments that control swelling and lower allergic reactions
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antibiotics to treat infections caused by bacteria
  • Antihistamines that make people sleepy to help stop nighttime scratching
  • Drugs that suppress the immune system

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