Patients with eczema are considered “sensitive”, reacting abnormally and easily to irritants, food, and environmental allergens. The skin easily becomes red, itchy and flaky. Because the skin is open, it is vulnerable to surface infections caused by bacteria. The skin on the flexural surfaces of the joints (inner sides of elbows and knees) are most commonly affected regions in patients over the age of 3 years.
Atopic dermatitis often occurs together with other atopic diseases like hay fever and asthma. It is a familial and chronic disease and its symptoms can increase or disappear over time.
Although there is no cure for atopic eczema, it can be managed with medications and preventative measures.
Since there is no cure for atopic eczema, treatment should mainly involve discovering the triggers of allergic reactions and learning to avoid them. Some measures which are considered preventative include:
Many common food allergens can trigger an allergic reaction in a susceptable individual: milk (dairy), soy, nuts, tomatoes, wheat, yeast, and corn. Many of these allergens are common ingredients in grocery store products (especially corn syrup, which is a sugar substitute). Specialty health food stores often carry products that do not contain common allergens. Not all patients have food related dermatitis so it is best to follow your provider’s recommendations so that nutrition is not compromised.
Environment and Lifestyle: Patients with eczema should avoid smoking as well as smoking exposures. The dander from the fur of dogs and cats may also trigger an atopic flare. Anger, stress, and lack of sleep are also factors that are known to aggravate eczema. Excessive heat (especially with humidity) and coldness are known to provoke outbreaks
Moisturizers: Patients with eczema are believed to have a defect in filagrin which is a natural component of the skin which helps to hold in moisture. Thus, successful prevention of flares involves adequate moisturization. To combat the severe dryness associated with eczema, a high-quality moisturizer should be used daily 5-10 min after bathing with a non-soap cleanser such as Dove sensitive skin bar soap. Synthetic fats called Pseudoceramides (which mimic natural filagrin and ceramides in normal skin) are now availble as moisturizers which are excellent for the eczema patient—an over the counter example is Cera-Ve®