Understanding Atopic Dermatitis (AD)?

What is atopic dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis (also referred to as AD) is the most prevalent type of eczema. In fact, more than 18 million American adults have atopic dermatitis — which will often form a red, itchy rash generally on the cheeks, arms, and legs.

Atopic dermatitis rash on an adult arm
Serious atopic dermatitis on an adult arm

Atopic dermatitis often starts during childhood, normally in the initial six months of a infants life. Even though it’s a wide-spread form of eczema, it’s also severe and extensive. When you or your kid have atopic dermatitis, it can clear up at times, but at others, it may worsen. Often, atopic dermatitis leaves as a child ages, though some children will have atopic dermatitis outbreaks into adulthood.

Atopic dermatitis transpires with two additional allergic conditions: hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and asthma. People who develop asthma and hay fever or who have family members who do are more inclined to form AD.

What triggers atopic dermatitis?

Researchers don’t know the specific cause of atopic dermatitis. Experts believe that a combination of heredity and other circumstances impact the formation. When a substance from inside or outside the body produces the immune system reaction, it over-responds and creates swelling. It is this inflammation that makes the skin red, rashy and itchy.

Studies also show that some people with eczema, especially atopic dermatitis, have a mutation in the gene accountable for developing filaggrin. Filaggrin is a protein that assists our bodies to form a healthy, protective barrier on the very top layer of the skin. Without sufficient filaggrin to build a strong skin barrier, moisture can disappear, and bacteria, viruses and more can enter. This is why many individuals with atopic have extremely dry and infection-predisposed skin.

What is Dermatitis

We also know that atopic dermatitis appears in families, but we don’t do the precise way it is transferred from parents to children. If one parent has AD, hay fever or asthma, there’s about a 50% chance that their offspring will have at least one of these diseases. If both parents have one or more of these conditions, the possibilities are much higher their child will, too.

A predicted 10% of all people globally are affected by atopic dermatitis at some period in their life. The condition seems to be more prevalent in urban areas and advanced countries. Either way, atopic dermatitis is not infectious. You or your child will not “catch” it from another individual, or give it to someone else.

Need Relief?
If you scratch excessively, it could cause your atopic dermatitis to flare up.

Get tips on controlling the itch — like keeping your hands occupied with other activities, so you’re less inclined to scratch
Surmise which allergens and substances can further aggravate your atopic dermatitis
Discover the best clothes to wear that won’t irritate your skin
Examine simple adjustments you can make in your everyday life to help your symptoms

What’s the distinction between eczema and atopic dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis is deemed a more severe type of eczema. People with atopic dermatitis may experience some different sensitivities for the rest of their lives:

  • Dry skin that becomes easily irritated
  • Occupational skin diseases like hand dermatitis
  • Skin infections like staph and herpes
  • Eye issues like eyelid dermatitis or cataracts
  • Other types of eczema trigger itching and redness, but some will also cause your skin to blister, “weep,” or peel. It’s important to recognize which of the different types of eczema you or your child may have so that you can thoroughly treat and manage it. The only way to be sure that you or your child has this condition is to make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Atopic dermatitis rash on the feet of an adult male
Atopic dermatitis rash, dry skin, and scale on the feet of an adult male

Learn more about the various types of eczema and their symptoms and triggers.

What are the symptoms of atopic dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis is chronic, indicating it does not normally go away in a few days or weeks. It may get better or worse, but the symptoms commonly return.

Atopic dermatitis is very itchy. Your or your child’s skin can become damaged from repeated scratching or rubbing. Atopic dermatitis normally appears on the cheeks, arms, and legs, but can be anywhere on the body.

Symptoms of atopic dermatitis cover:

  • Redness
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Itching
  • Cracks in the ears
  • A rash on the arms, cheeks, back, and legs
  • Open, crusted or “weepy” sores (usually during flares)
    If the skin grows infected, it may develop a yellow crust or small pus-filled bumps. The skin may also become thicker from scraping and rubbing.

Other types of eczema, such as contact dermatitis may look like atopic dermatitis. It is probable to have atopic dermatitis and another kind of eczema at once.


What makes atopic dermatitis outcome or worse?
When trying to identify triggers that might aggravate your atopic dermatitis, keep in mind that a flare can sometimes appear detection

Though triggers can vary from person to person, some of the most common atopic dermatitis triggers include:

  • Dry skin — which can quickly become brittle, scaly, rough, and tight
  • Chemical irritants — everyday products or substances (hand and dish soap, bubble bath, shampoo, laundry detergent, and body wash, or surface cleaners and disinfectants) that can cause your skin to burn and itch, or become dry and red
  • Stress can cause a person’s atopic dermatitis to flare or worsen
  • Hot/cold temps and perspiration can lead to itchy skin or “prickly heat” symptoms from the heat and sweating, and very dry skin can develop during the cold winter months
  • Infection from viruses and bacteria that live in your environment (like staph, herpes, or certain types of fungi)
  • Allergens from everyday materials in the environment like seasonal pollen, dust mites, pet dander and mold
  • Hormones — outbreaks may happen, especially in women, when particular hormones in the body increase or decrease
  • Learn more about the most prevalent causes and triggers of eczema.

How can I constrain my atopic dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis with hardened (lichenified) skin from recurred scratching

Managing atopic dermatitis focuses on basics:

  • Know your triggers
  • Create a regular bathing and moisturizing routine
  • Use OTC and prescription medication consistently and as prescribed
  • Observe for signs of infection — pain,pus-filled bumps, redness, heat — on the skin
  • When controlling atopic dermatitis, it is essential to be constant with skin care including using OTC and prescription medicines as directed.

Here are some ideas you can do to assist in the control your atopic dermatitis:

  • Establish a daily skin care routine focused on bathing and moisturizing and using OTC and prescription treatments as directed.
  • Try to pinpoint your atopic dermatitis triggers, but don’t worry if you are unable to identify them all.
  • As much as you are capable, try not to scratch and rub the affected skin. Dress in soft, breathable clothing and avoid itchy fabrics like wool.
  • Eliminate common allergens from your house.
  • Seek assistance from others coping with atopic dermatitis.
  • Treatment of atopic dermatitis
  • Based on the severity of symptoms, atopic dermatitis can be treated with topical medications, which are applied to the skin; phototherapy, a form of light treatment; immunosuppressant drugs that broadly control the immune system; and biologic drugs that target specific areas of the immune system. In severe cases, systemic (taken by mouth or injection) steroids are employed, though not recommended for the treatment of atopic dermatitis.

What is Skin Eczema?