Atopic dermatitis, or what’s more commonly known as atopic eczema, is a common skin condition that’s characterized by localized inflammation, redness and swelling to one or more allergens. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, approximately 20% of the general population will develop atopic dermatitis at some point in their life. While it’s more common in younger children, the fact remains that anyone can develop it at any age.
Atopic Dermatitis: The Basics
Like other types of allergies, atopic dermatitis is an immune system disorder. Our immune system works around the clock to identify and neutralize harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi. When it detects an invader, it responds by producing and releasing certain chemicals, such as histamines. People who suffer from atopic dermatitis, however, experience an overactive immune system to otherwise harmless substances, resulting in characteristic symptoms like intense itching, redness and swelling of the skin.
Identify Your ‘Triggers’
If you suffer from atopic dermatitis, you should first try to identify the triggers of your condition. Basically, these are the allergen that trigger an allergic reaction. Common triggers may include nickel, antibiotic creams, plants, powders, pollen and dust mites.
Moisturize Your Skin
The most effective way to protect against atopic dermatitis outbreaks is to avoid the specific allergens to which you are allergic. Additionally, however, keeping your skin moist may also help. A study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Allergy and Immunology found that applying moisturizing creams and lotions to the skin prevents it from drying out while subsequently decreasing the need for medications.
Another tip to manage atopic dermatitis is to consume more probiotics in your diet. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria and yeast that support health and wellness. One study found that probiotics reduced the rate of atopic dermatitis by approximately 20%. Yogurt and cheese are both excellent sources of probiotics. If you don’t get enough probiotics through your diet alone, consider taking a supplement.
Of course, there’s also medication available to treat and manage atopic dermatitis. Antihistamines may offer some relief, though they are best taken before a skin outbreak occurs. Steroid creams like hydrocortisone may offer relief by blocking the release of chemicals associated with atopic dermatitis. There are also oral and injectable steroids available. However, you should talk with your doctor or dermatologist for more information on which medication is right for you.