Atopic Dermatitis

What is Atopic Dermatitis?

In a nutshell, atopic dermatitis (also known as eczema) is a skin condition that can cause general discomfort on an average day. People with the condition can break out with red, itchy blotches on their skin in their day-to-day lives if they don't know how to avoid its triggers. There are no known causes or cures for atopic dermatitis at the moment, but the condition has been proven to be manageable throughout an individual's lifespan, as long as the person is aware of the symptoms and how to deal with them.

What are Its Symptoms?

Individuals with atopic dermatitis tend to have the following symptoms:

  • Chronic itching, particularly at night
  • Reddish blotches on the skin, most commonly on the hands, feet, chest, and the skin around the body's joints
  • Skin that dries, sometimes to the point of becoming scaly or cracked
  • In serious cases, leaking fluid from infections that might have been caused by scratching

I'm Suffering from Those Symptoms! Do I Have Atopic Dermatitis?

Although these symptoms are common in people with the condition, they may also be indicative of other skin problems, such as allergies, heat rash, or even poison ivy. It should be noted, however, that atopic dermatitis is first exhibited in patients before the age of 5; if you've been experiencing these symptoms since an early age, there is a larger likelihood that you may have it.

When you notice these symptoms on your skin, the best thing to do is to go to a dermatologist to have the breakout checked. You may have to undergo a series of patch tests -- in which doctors test your skin's reaction to various irritants -- but the knowledge and comfort you'll eventually gain will be well worth it.

How Can I Treat It?

While there is still no known cure at the time of this writing, there are many ways to manage the symptoms of atopic dermatitis. First and foremost is the cardinal rule of health: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Atopic dermatitis outbreaks happen most frequently when skin is exposed to common irritants, like latex and chemical bleaches. The best way to avoid these irritants is by wearing 100% organic cotton clothing. Individuals who wear organic clothing on a regular basis tend to experience symptoms less frequently, to a very significant degree.

If irritants are unavoidable, you can still deal with the symptoms with anti-itching and anti-swelling creams. Many people find that sticking to a single soap and moisturizer helps, as it reduces the number of possible irritants your skin is exposed to. Some people use cold compresses to relieve the itching; oatmeal baths -- that popular remedy for chicken pox -- are also helpful. Nutrition experts have also found that proper hydration and getting your RDA of Vitamin D can reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms, as well. 

Again, the best thing to do is to consult your doctor regarding the treatment of the symptoms, as well as doing your best to avoid any triggers for the condition.