Atopic dermatitis (eczema) – causes and symptoms

Article

09. 02. 2021

Atopic eczema is a chronic skin disease that causes itching. It affects 15 to 30% of children and between 2-10% of adults. Men and women are often affected equally. In this informative article, we will look at the causes, symptoms and the various forms of this unpleasant disease and how it can be treated.

What is atopic eczema?

Atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis is a chronic (often lifelong) and episodic conditions. It alternates between periods of rest (remiss ion) and flare-up (exacerbation) which are characterised by the appearance of a rash. Only in exceptional cases is the course continuous. It is a skin inflammation that is usually of allergic origin.

Atopic dermatitis results from a reduction in the resistance of the lipid skin barrier, a reduction in skin hydration, and thus the skin becomes dry. The skin becomes less resistant to external surroundings such as irritants and allergens - which further aggravate atopic eczema.

 

Causes of atopic eczema
Genetic factors, skin barrier defect, immune response, environmental influences and infectious agents are common triggers of atopic eczema. Atopic eczema is exacerbated by, allergens, microbes, irritants, hormonal and climatic factors or even mental stress. The main triggers are:

  • allergens,
  • changes in diet,
  • fresh fruit juice (strawberries, citrus, tomatoes, exotic fruits),
  • emotional stress,
  • contact with airborne allergens - animal fur, mites, pollen and mould,
  • contact with pets, microorganisms - bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast
  • skin contact with natural fibres - wool, fur, as well as artificial fibres (polyester),
  • contact with irritants - hot water, cigarette smoke, soaps, detergents rich in enzymes,
  • hormonal changes (in women) - 1st and 2nd trimester of pregnancy, period around childbirth, menopause, premenstrual period,
  • excessive heat or cold

 


Symptoms of atopic eczema
Reddish and itchy scaly rash appears on the skin. The rash/eczema most commonly appears in the areas where joints bend-the wrists, elbow and knee holes, then on the face, neck, upper chest- especially in children. The need to scratch can become very intense. The By scratching, there is a risk that bacteria can get into the skin and an infection will develop making the eczema  much worse. The flaky dry skin then peels off.


Atopic dermatitis looks different from case to case. However, the most common symptoms include:

  • increased dryness and general skin irritation
  • inflammatory pimples and blisters,
  • itching and swelling,
  • fluid oozing from the skin,
  • festering/weeping of the skin
  • peeling surfaces and then scabs,
  • in cases of chronic eczema, thickening and discoloration of the skin.

The adolescent and adult stages of eczema develop from the ages of 12 years and beyond. After puberty, the intensity of atopic eczema decreases, the symptoms often become milder. In addition to the joint pits, hands, toes, toes, face, eye area, lips and nipples are most commonly affected. Roughening of the skin is also a dominant symptom.

TIP: Do you or your children suffer from atopic dermatitis? Book an appointment with  professionals in the field of dermatology at one of our clinics. We are the largest provider of outpatient medical care in the Czech Republic, confide your health to good hands.

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