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What Is Atopic Dermatitis?

Published on Mar 01, 2019 and last reviewed on Oct 03, 2022   -  1 min read


Atopic dermatitis is an itchy skin condition in which skin is very dry. This condition starts in childhood, even in infancy.

What Is Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is an itchy skin condition in which skin is very dry. This condition starts in childhood, even in infancy. Apart from dryness, these individuals can have other features of atopy like sneezing, asthma, allergic rhinitis (runny nose), and watering from eyes. A family history of atopy can also be positive. These individuals are more prone to have frequent skin infections that can be bacterial or viral or fungal.

They have allergies to multiple things like food, woolen clothing, etc. Itching is the most troublesome symptom present, which gets aggravated by multiple factors like extreme weather, infection, and prolonged bathing. Itching causes sleep disturbances and interferes with daily activities.

Atopic individuals can have eye problems. They can present with watering from eyes, redness, and itching, which are all symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis. In severe cases, it can lead to cataract formation in the eyes.

Atopic individuals can present with urticaria, which causes wheels and hives due to multiple allergies. The most common viral infection such people present with is herpes infection, which also aggravates their atopic skin condition.

In some individuals, the condition gets better with age, but in others, it persists. It can be a very distressing condition, and a high rate of depression is found in such people.


The reason for dryness of the skin is a decrease in the natural moisturizing factor that is inherently low in these individuals. For management of atopic dermatitis, proper hydration and moisture of skin have to be maintained as follows:

  1. Refrain from taking long baths.
  2. After bathing, apply liquid paraffin and soft white paraffin on the skin.
  3. Olive oil massage can be done to decrease dryness.
  4. For very inflamed skin, steroids can be used for a short period.
  5. For severe conditions, hospital admission is required, and oral immunosuppressive therapy can be given.
  6. Phototherapy is another treatment option.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Is Atopic Dermatitis Caused?

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic condition that affects the skin and can occur due to the following reasons:
- Genetic changes distract the skin’s functions, leading to various skin disorders.
- Familial history.
- Allergies.
- History of asthma or other allergic conditions.


What Are the Characteristics of Atopic Dermatitis?

The classic features of atopic dermatitis include
- Skin appears dry.
- Red, cracked, or scaly skin.
- Tiny bumps on the skin.
- Itchy rashes on the skin.
- The common sites include - knees, elbows, neck, etc.


Can the Sun Help With Atopic Dermatitis?

Generally, sun exposure offers vitamin D, which is essential for the body for several functions. In the case of atopic dermatitis, a few studies have reported that exposure to sun rays may decrease the severity of the condition. However, excess exposure to the sun may aggravate the skin condition. Therefore minimal sun exposure is suggested.


How to Treat Atopic Dermatitis?

When it comes to treating atopic dermatitis, it is essential to prevent further dryness of the skin by moisturizing it and with adequate hydration. Others include
- Medications such as antibiotics, anti-allergic, and others prevent infections and control the immune system. 
- Phototherapy.
- Wet dressings, etc.


Do Drugs Lead To Atopic Dermatitis?

Yes, certain drugs may lead to atopic dermatitis. Skin reactions may occur due to the intake of specific drugs over a week. This include:
- Tumor necrosis factor inhibitor.
- Diuretics.
- Immunoglobulins that are administered intravenously.
- Ribavirin.


How Do Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis Differ?

Eczema and dermatitis are both skin conditions. Eczema often refers to skin rashes that are itchy. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic disorder of the skin, while eczema is often related to other allergic conditions such as asthma. The rashes due to eczema may become swollen and red when scratched. Both atopic dermatitis and eczema may occur due to familial history, genetic changes, stress, allergies, etc.


Can Drink Stops Itching?

For several skin conditions, proper hydration is necessary for the treatment. Especially drinking plenty of water helps greatly in treating skin dryness, itching, and other symptoms. In addition, drinking adequate water may help drain the toxins stored in the body, which gradually relieves the skin from itching.


Does Atopic Dermatitis Go Away on Its Own?

The rashes formed due to atopic dermatitis may last for a long time, and they may keep recurring. In addition, atopic dermatitis in children may reduce within a few years and may return due to exposure to allergens or other triggering factors. In adults, the condition may be moderate to severe; however, medications and other treatments may reduce the symptoms.


Does Atopic Dermatitis Cause Itchiness?

Yes, the rashes caused by atopic dermatitis are itchy. These itchy rashes occur along the elbows, knees, neck, and other parts of the body. They appear dry, red, and crusted; severe scratching may cause them to ooze blood. Exposure to triggering factors may worsen the itching.


Does Atopic Dermatitis Cause Pain?

Atopic dermatitis is considered a form of eczema, and its classic features include itchiness, red rashes, tiny bumps on the skin, dryness, etc. Among them, pain may also occur due to severe scratching of the rashes, skin trauma, exposure to irritants, wounds, etc. Therefore, it is important to hydrate, prevent exposure to irritants, and use medications as suggested by the specialist to manage such pain.


Does Stress Cause Atopic Dermatitis?

Stress remains to be one of the risk factors for atopic dermatitis. In addition, being in stress also increases the frequency of flare-ups. High stress may directly elevate the levels of cortisol in the system. Increased cortisol levels may trigger the occurrence of atopic dermatitis. Therefore it is vital to follow certain methods to reduce the stress level to prevent dermatitis flare-ups.


Is Atopic Dermatitis Contagious?

The skin due to atopic dermatitis seems to be dry and itchy; the affected person may tend to scratch the dry skin and may touch the other areas of the skin, which leads to the spread of dermatitis. However, these conditions do not transmit from one individual to another; instead, it spreads to other areas of the skin of the same individual.


Does Dermatitis Mean a Fungal Infection?

No, dermatitis does not mean a fungal infection. But several fungal infections of the skin may also cause itchiness, rashes, red bumps on the skin, etc. It is vital to diagnose them properly to treat them better. Fungal infections are treatable with topical and oral antifungals. In addition, the prognosis of fungal infections of the skin is good compared to that of dermatitis.


Does Atopic Dermatitis Belong to the Group of Autoimmune Diseases?

No, atopic dermatitis does not belong to or be categorized under autoimmune disorders. They mainly occur as a result of genetic variations or triggering factors that agitate the protective function of the skin. Therefore, when the skin gets exposed to allergens or other irritants, atopic dermatitis may develop.

Last reviewed at:
03 Oct 2022  -  1 min read




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