What causes Atopic Dermatitis?
Atopic Dermatitis, also called Atopic Eczema - or just eczema, is the name given to a stubborn, itchy rash that occurs in certain people with sensitive or irritable skin. The cause of eczema is not known. It's the result of a built-in defect of the skin that tends to run in families. Eczema is not contagious and is not related to your general health. Atopic Dermatitis is also called constitutional eczema; this name emphasizes the built-in aspect. Persons with eczema have skin that is dry and easily irritated by soap, detergents, and rough woolen clothing. Very hot or very cold weather often aggravates eczema. While certain allergies may worsen eczema, they don't cause it.
How is Atopic Dermatitis treated?
Since eczema patients have a constitutional skin defect, no permanent cure is possible. Fortunately, we have effective ways of controlling eczema; most people are able to live comfortably with their skin handicap.
Cortisone compounds applied to the skin are one of the best treatments for controlling eczema. Most cortisone salves can be used safely for years. When large areas of the body are treated with strong cortisone salves, periodic medical check-ups are necessary. Certain cortisones should not be applied to the face, armpits, groin or rectal area. In severe eczema, it's sometimes necessary to take cortisone by mouth or injections; however, this is done only for short periods and under the close supervision of a doctor.
Cortisone is applied to the skin in the form of lotion, creams, or greasy ointments. When the skin is very dry, ointments are often best. Whatever preparation you use, be sure to only use a little and massage it in well. Always remember to use just a little.
Other medicines are sometimes used. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory salves like Protopic or Elidel can be helpful in addition to others. And in resistant cases other systemic treatments are often used.
In controlling your eczema remember:
- Keep your skin well lubricated. If your skin is too dry, use a moisturizer after you rub in your cortisone cream or lotion. Using bath oil in the tub or putting it on after toweling dry will help keep your skin moist.
- Keep soap away from your eczema. Soap irritates and dries the skin. Persons with eczema should avoid it. When bathing or showering, use plain water; limit soap to your face, armpits, genital area, and feet. If you must wash your hands frequently with soap, rinse them carefully and afterward apply a little cortisone cream or ointment.
- Avoid overheating. Most persons with eczema find that hot weather and heavy sweating worsen their eczema. In hot climates wear cool, loose clothing, and try to stay in air-conditioned buildings.
- Avoid direct skin contact with wool or similar rough clothing.
- Avoid anything that definitely aggravates your eczema. If certain creams, make-ups, perfumes, and so on cause itching or irritation, don't use them.
- It's usually possible to find a treatment routine that lets you control your eczema. If your eczema worsens and you can't control it, please contact us so we can change your treatment.