Atopic Dermatitis (AD)

Atopic Dermatitis (AD)

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is an inflammatory skin condition that is often referred to as eczema. It is a chronic condition that usually begins in childhood and can last a lifetime. Symptoms of AD may vary and can include red, inflamed and itchy skin, as well as an array of other skin changes. AD is a common condition, estimated to affect up to 20% of children and 1-3% of adults.

What Causes AD?

The exact cause of AD is unknown, however, a variety of factors have been identified that can contribute to the worsening of symptoms. These include environmental exposures such as irritants, allergens, temperature changes, and emotional stress. Genetics also play a role in AD, as it is often seen in families with a history of allergies, such as asthma or hay fever.

Treatment of AD

Treatment for AD is aimed at relieving symptoms such as itching and redness, as well as preventing long-term skin damage. Treatment may include:

  • Topical medications such as topical steroids, calcineurin inhibitors, or immunomodulators.
  • Oral medications such as antihistamines or antibiotics.
  • Synthetic or natural moisturizers to keep the skin hydrated.
  • Phototherapy to help reduce inflammation.
  • Lifestyle modifications to reduce stress, wear comfortable clothing, and limit irritants.

Prevention of AD

Even though the exact cause of AD is unknown, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing or worsening symptoms. These include:

  • Avoiding triggers such as irritants, allergens, or extreme temperatures.
  • Using mild, fragrance-free soaps and detergents.
  • Limiting hot showers or baths and avoiding scrubbing the skin.
  • Using breathable fabrics such as cotton for clothing.
  • Using synthetic or natural moisturizers regularly.

Managing AD can be difficult, but with proper treatment and lifestyle modifications, many people can continue to lead a normal life. It is important to talk to your doctor if you or a family member has been diagnosed with AD in order to determine the best treatment plan.