Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic Dermatitis affects 15 million people and is usually accompanied by asthma and hay fever. The symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis vary from person to person but generally include itchy, dry skin, a red or pinkish colored rash, thickening of the skin, cracks behind the ears; and rashes on the cheeks, arms, and legs and in some cases scarring of the skin. Scratch marks are often seen, along with scaly dry skin. The extreme itchy sensation causes an itch-scratch response - the more it itches, the more you scratch, the more you scratch, the more it itches.
The symptoms of atopic dermatitis can be altered by the itch-scratch response pattern, which can result in red, scaling skin. It may also develop into a condition known as lichenification in which the skin develops a thick and leathery surface as a result of constant scratching and rubbing. Lichenification also known as neurodermatitis may appear as small and flat areas called plaques of various sizes, 1 to 10 inches in diameter. These areas have definite margins that have become thick and assume a leather-like or lichenified appearance. Lichenification may occur when something such as a tight garment rubs or scratches your skin. This irritation may lead you to rub or scratch your skin repeatedly. Common locations include ankles, wrist, outer forearm or arm, and the back of your neck.
Another result of the cycle of itching and scratching is the development of small raised skin bumps or papules on the skin. If the papules are scratch or irritated enough, they will begin to weep a clear fluid with resulting crusty areas on the skin. There is always a chance of infection as the skin has been damaged and with moist weeping body fluid to become a fertile area for bacterial growth. These papules may be confused with rosacea , a chronic inflammation of the cheeks, nose, chin, forehead, or eyelids. Rosacea differs from Atopic dermatitis in that the onset of the condition is usually when one is over 30, and the increased prominence of the blood vessels or spider veins in the skin.
Atopic dermatitis may possibly cause problems of the eye lid, eye socket, eye lashes, as well as eye brows. An obviously, the appearance only gets worse if the patients uses their natural instinct to scratch the area. The eye areas are then more noticeable with redness and also have the possibility of eye infections. Sometimes a few patients with atopic dermatitis may have a thickening of the skin in the eye area to have the visual effect of an eye fold or pleat of skin. Just as many with acne have darker areas where the acne infection was previously, the eye areas can darken after the infection has been solved.
Severe atopic dermatitis can also cause eye complications, which may lead to permanent eye damage. When these complications occur, itching in and around the eyelids becomes severe. Signs and symptoms of eye complications also include blepharitis - which causes eye watering and inflammation of the eyelid. The lining of the eyelid may also be affected resulting in a condition known as conjunctivitis or pinkeye. These ocular symptoms can be very similar to ocular rosacea. Because dermatitis and rosacea can occur together it's important to be able to distinguish whether your facial skin condition is atopic dermatitis or rosacea.
Causes of Atopic Dermatitis
The inflammation of atopic dermatitis is caused by too many reactive inflammatory cells within the skin. It is unknown what causes these cells to over-react. But it appears people with Atopic dermatitis are born with this genetic trait, which causes the over-reactive cell response. When something triggers or stimulates this over-reactive response, the body lacks the ability to turn off or control the response.
People who live in urban areas and in climates with low humidity seem to have an increased risk for developing atopic dermatitis. Factors that can cause Atopic dermatitis include soap, harsh chemicals, heat and humidity, stress, foods such as eggs, milk, wheat, soy protein, shell fish or peanuts. Deodorant soaps, all natural soaps, makeup, cream or lotions often contain ingredients, which can cause an atopic dermatitis response. Inhalant allergens such as house dust mites, pets, pollen and cut grass are also triggers that can cause inflammation resulting in atopic dermatitis.
Other common causes of Atopic dermatitis include dry skin. The skin is the largest organ of the body that wraps or envelopes the entire body to keep the bacteria, virus and fungi out. So keeping the skin healthy to protect the body is a most important purpose. The healthy skin can be beautiful while protecting the muscles and inner organs, but without proper care, the skin can break down with skin disorders such as various types of dermatitis ranging from eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, acne, poison ivy, etc. Keeping the skin healthy and beautiful is also keeping the skin functional to be supple or flexible to bend at the joints and muscles move. So keeping the entire body well hydrated also keeps the skin cells regenerating to keep the skin well hydrated. Winters are drier than summers so the skin disorders become more apparent during the cold dry winters with chapped skin.
People with atopic dermatitis often notice that they itch when they get hot. The patient may work or play to sweat and be hot to feel a tingling or prickly sensation of their skin. Likewise the same skin sensation can occur when overheated in clothing in bed or with very quick changes from hot to cold temperatures.
Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis
Controlling Atopic dermatitis can be managed through avoidance of those things or events, which trigger the itch-scratch response. Maintain the proper pH balance in the body. This will strengthen the immune system, which will help to control the reactive itching response. When the immune system is weak or compromised we are more susceptible to allergens and the factors that cause Atopic dermatitis.