Key information on atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema is a chronic, inflammatory, recurring and noncontagious disease that has long been regarded as merely a “skin” condition. The most prominent symptom of the illness is the strongly itchy skin. In severe forms of atopic dermatitis, patients can develop other atopic conditions, chronic bowl diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and numerous other diseases. You can read more about atopic dermatitis here.

The cause of atopic dermatitis is not yet completely known. The latest research shows that it’s a complex illness which develops due to genetic and environmental factors. It’s thus not merely a “skin” condition but a systemic and an autoimmune disease.

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic illness that most often occurs in early childhood but can first appear later in one’s life as well. Just like any other chronic condition, atopic dermatitis demands frequent visits to the doctors, so it’s important that you build a quality relationship with your paediatrician, GP, dermatologist or allergist. Ideally, you and your doctor should be able to trust and respect each other. Such a relationship will give you a peace of mind, which will allow you to control your illness better. The healing process is easiest when the patient, the doctor and the family members work together. The treatment course depends on the patient’s age and health state and the symptoms of the disease.

Do you feel alone, overlooked and misunderstood in your battle with your illness? Don’t give up, you’re not alone! 20 – 30% of children and 2 – 5% of adults face atopic dermatitis on a daily basis. The number of patients is high and there is a growing concern it may be rising still. Due to more and more patients suffering from atopic dermatitis, the scientific community has finally accorded the disease long overdue attention. Atopic dermatitis is no longer regarded as merely a “skin” condition, and the understanding that we have of it has broadened and deepened.

The itch is by far the worst and the most unbearable symptom of atopic dermatitis for the patients. Don’t try to prevent your child from scratching his or her atopic skin at all costs, as he or she is in great distress. Clip the child’s nails short and try finding alternatives to scratching such as applying cooling creams, caressing the itchy areas, tapping, using compresses etc.

Maintaining daily skin hygiene is of vital importance. Skincare products provide the skin with the necessary fat and prevent it from losing moisture. By using such products, we improve the barrier function of the skin and reduce the amount of allergens and microbes that can enter the body. This leads to less inflammation of the skin and reduces the itchy sensation.

Being always on the lookout for profit, advertisers will try to sell you “natural” creams that can “heal” atopic dermatitis and other skin conditions. If you you’re being offered a cream without proper certification that promises incredible results, be very careful when using it. These creams most likely contain corticosteroids the long term use of which can have serious negative consequences for your health. Stick to this principle: If something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

Write a diary. In doing so, you’ll find it easier to identify the triggers for your atopic dermatitis. Write down the types of food that you’ve eaten, the activities that you’ve engaged in and the environmental factors that you suspect have worsened your symptoms.

Atopic dermatitis presents the patient and his or her family with numerous financial expenses. The skincare products offered on prescription often don’t bring the desired results, so the patients end up spending hundreds of euros or more per month in purchasing skincare products not covered by their insurance. The expenses further involve the costs of self-funding medical check-ups, special foods and anti-allergic bed covers, costing the patients thousand euros and more. Through education and psychosocial help you can reduce the financial burden of the treatment.

The quality of life is drastically reduced in patients with atopic dermatitis. The itch, pain, insomnia, social isolation, discrimination and stigmatisation bear down greatly on the ailing individuals. It’s thus very important that patients can find acceptance, understanding and support in their family members and friends. Staying away from stressful situations is also crucial. Children with atopic dermatitis are especially vulnerable, as they are often victims of verbal and also physical abuse. Stay connected with your child and pay attention to his or her fears. Ask the child how his or her friends and schoolmates are reacting to the illness and, if necessary, talk about the illness with the child’s teachers.