Causes & Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
In the United States alone, Atopic Dermatitis affects 10 to 20% of children and 1% to 3% of adults. It is a serious skin disorder which can be traced to allergies. Chronic eczema is the most common manifestation of the disease. Skin belonging to the flexural surfaces like the inner sides of the elbows and knees are the most prone to the said condition. It occurs with a gamut of all other allergic reactions like hay fever, asthma and allergic conjunctivitis. Children are particularly affected by it.
The word ‘Dermatitis’ refers to inflammation. The word ‘Atopic’ refers to diseases which have a hereditary component associated with them. It is often a persistent problem, which without treatment aggravates very fast. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease have stated that the incidence of the disease is increasing with each passing day. About 80% of the patients have it during the first 5 years of life. It gradually disappears with time especially during adolescence.
Why do we experience Atopic Eczema in Allergies?
The disease is generally a symptom of one of the trio namely, asthma, allergies and hay fever. It has a deep connection with allergies. It is an autoimmune condition. The immune system reacts to otherwise harmless proteins and causes the body to produce IgE antibodies. These antibodies react and bind with the protein and causes the mast cells underneath the skin to release histamine. Histamine causes irritation in the nerve endings and brings forth the discussed skin condition.
Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis
- The skin reacts easily to environmental allergens and food. Dry, red patches of leathery skin which flakes on the surface appears.
- Adults get dull looking lesions on the face, neck, fingers, feet and toes.
- Infants get red, scaly, oozy and crusty cheeks and symptoms appear on legs, neck and arms.
- The skin condition is aggravated with the itchiness present with it. Red itchy bumps on the skin appears.
- Blisters appear which crust and ooze.
- Skin inflammation and redness can appear around blisters.
- Ear discharge and bleeding.
- Change in skin tone. Lighter and darker patches appear all over.
- It can affect the skin around the eyes and the eyelids. Scratching can cause redness and inflammation around the eyelids. It could also cause patchy loss of eyebrows and eyelashes.
What causes Atopic Dermatitis?
It is caused by a variety of causes which are as follows:
It is familial in nature and can be passed down in the family. Genetics along with environmental factors, nutrition or hygiene brings about the condition.
Food Allergens present in foods like peanuts, tree nuts, shell fish, milk, wheat , fish and egg often causes the above condition. The atopic eczema could be triggered by the protein in the foods.
Allergic reaction in contact, inhalation or intake of chemicals or irritants is generally manifested as the said condition.
Exogenous sources of histamine can cause some individuals to show signs of eczema. Certain foods like eggs, cheese, alcohol, fish might contain histamine. Vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes and spinach also contain histamine naturally and can trigger the onset of the skin conditions.
It can be caused by insect and flea bites.
Prolonged exposure to microwave radiation emitted from cell phones can make symptoms worse.
Environmental irritants like dirt, germs and grime can penetrate into the skin layers and cause the skin to get dried and chapped. Dry skin is the most common cause of the disease.
Emotional disorders like stress, fear, anger, frustration can cause an upheaval of bodily chemicals and be manifested as a skin reaction.
Persistent use of topical steroid cream to treat the described condition can make symptoms worse. Stopping its use can cure the skin infection.