What is Atopic Eczema?
Atopic eczema is the most common type of eczema. This eczema type shows a typical recurrence of skin inflammation.
The word ‘atopic’ refers to having certain ‘allergic’ tendencies. So, this eczema type is mostly seen in cases of people who have allergies or have a family history of allergies. People who suffer from this type of eczema are more likely to develop other conditions related to allergy immune system responses like asthma and hay fever.
What are the Symptoms of Atopic Eczema?
Some Common Symptoms of this Type of Eczema:
- The skin becomes dry.
- Some portion of the skin looks red and inflamed. This eczema type mostly affects areas like front of the elbows and wrists, backs of knees, and around the neck. However, it can affect any part of the skin. In case of babies, it usually affects the face.
- After inflammation, the skin becomes itchy. If the person scratches too much, the patches of skin may become thick.
- The areas previously inflamed can become blistered and weepy.
- The skin can also become infected.
- Sometimes the inflamed skin areas may ‘flare-up.’ The duration and severity of such ‘flare-ups’ varies in different individuals.
- In mild eczema cases, a flare-up may result in one or two small, dry patches of skin. They’re mostly seen behind the knees, in front of elbows, or wrists.
- If severe flare-ups happen, it may last several weeks or more. The eczema can cover large areas of the body.
Who has Atopic Eczema?
Atopic eczema is mostly seen in case of children less than 5 years of age. It is unusual, but people can also develop this type of eczema after the age of 20. This condition is seen in 1 in 6 schoolchildren. Often, by the mid-teenage years, the flare-ups due to the eczema problem disappear or become non-important.
In some cases, the person will continue to have problems with eczema throughout their lives. About 1 in 20 adults suffer from this type of eczema.
What Causes Atopic Eczema?
The cause of this type of eczema is not known. Genetic factors are considered to be mainly responsible for this problem. If both the parents have the problem, then their children have an eighty percent chance of having the condition. If one parent is suffering from the condition, the children have a sixty percent chance of having this eczema. However, scientists are not yet able to find out that actual genetic cause of the problem.
This eczema type has become more common during the recent years. Many attribute the problem to factors like changes in climate, mite or pollens, pollution, diet, allergies to house dust, infections etc. It is possible that combination of these factors and genetic factors can result in this type of eczema problem.
What is the Usual Treatment for Atopic Eczema?
The usual treatment of atopic eczema can be divided in 3 parts:
- Avoid skin irritants and other ‘triggers’ – the person should avoid any skin irritant that can trigger the problem. If necessary, avoid perfumed soaps, bubble bath, synthetic clothes, extreme temperature fluctuations, and detergents.
- Emollients (moisturizers) -these are necessary every day as they can help to prevent inflammation. Use lotions, creams, or ointments to prevent drying of your skin. Keep your skin moist to avoid dryness and itchiness.
- Topical steroids (steroid creams and ointments) – these steroids can help to reduce inflammation flares-up. Steroid drugs (also known as corticosteroids) are used to reduce inflammation. They are classified into categories of mild, moderately potent, potent, and very potent.