Atopic Dermatitis (Atopic Eczema)

Atopic Dermatitis – Atopic Eczema

This is a fairly common skin problem.  Any area of the body may be affected.  The skin is frequently dry, red, rough or scaly and itchy.  Itch can be severe, and you may find yourself scratching or rubbing while awake, or even when sleeping.  Affected individuals may also be prone to allergies, runny nose, or asthma.  The eruptions typically occur on the elbow bends and backs of the knees, ankles and wrists, and on the face, neck, and upper chest.  The skin is very sensitive.  Its normal protective barrier is disrupted.  Consequently, the rash may be easily irritated by everyday substances such as soaps, detergents, fragrances, hot water, and rough fabrics.  The condition usually improves with time.  However, it can come and go throughout life. 

Since this condition is associated with allergies, can certain foods be the cause?

Yes, but only rarely (perhaps 10 percent).  Although some foods may provoke attacks, especially in infants and young children, eliminating them rarely will bring about lasting improvement or a cure.  If all else fails, foods such as cow’s milk, soy, eggs, fish, wheat, and peanuts can be avoided for at least one to two weeks on a trial basis.

Are environmental causes important, and should they be eliminated?

Rarely does elimination of contact or airborne substances bring about lasting relief.  Occasionally plant allergens, dust, and dust-catching objects like feather pillows, down comforters, kapok pillows and mattresses, carpeting, drapes, and wool along with other rough fabrics, can cause the condition to worsen.  Anxiety and stress are also exacerbating factors of eczema.

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