We now know that atopic dermatitis (AD), the most common form of eczema, is a complex condition involving more than just the skin.
While we don’t know exactly what causes AD, we do know that it involves the immune system. It is believed that genes and environmental factors play a role, which means the cause is much deeper.
What are the symptoms of AD?
With AD, itching can be an ever-present symptom that can:
|•||vary in intensity|
|•||vary in severity|
|•||trigger the vicious ‘itch-scratch-cycle’|
Visible symptoms, that may come and go, include:
|•||red and dry skin|
||thickening and scaling of the skin|
||oozing rashes that bleed when scratched|
AD can also have significant on-going invisible impacts, including:
• lack of concentration
Starting a new conversation
Understanding your symptoms can help you communicate AD’s impact to your doctor.
Learn more about why you should start a new conversation.
Alyssa: I spent a lot of time hiding away in my bedroom so that I didn't have to explain why my skin looked the way it did to anyone.
impact of your eczema
It’s normal if you’ve learned to adjust and cope with AD. But you shouldn’t have to, especially when options are available that could help you.
This survey can help you think more about the impact AD has on your day-to-day life, helping you gain a better understanding of your condition.
Identify the elements of your daily life affected by AD.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) and eczema are often used interchangeably but are not the same thing. Eczema, as a term, includes a variety of skin conditions that all display similar symptoms. AD, the most common form of eczema, is recognized as a chronic condition that can have an impact on quality of life. Other common forms of eczema include:
· Contact dermatitis - a localized skin reaction to an external irritant or allergen.
· Dyshidrotic eczema - small, itchy blisters on the palms of hands, soles of feet and edges of the fingers and toes.
You shouldn’t have to put up with the discomfort of atopic dermatitis (AD). There’s growing scientific evidence that the body’s immune system plays an important role in the condition. Disease management approaches are available. Re-engaging with your doctor or healthcare specialist could lead to the suggestion of different management options.
Moisturizers do contain hydrating ingredients and some even have humectants that draw moisture into the skin, but their main purpose is to help protect the outermost layer of skin known as the moisture barrier, and this allows your skin to retain its existing moisture.
Retaining your skin's moisture is extremely important. You may be recommended a moisturizer by your healthcare provider, which you should use as instructed. However, if you are using an over-the-counter moisturizer, there are some important factors to consider:
· Ingredients – Checking the ingredient list can help you work out if you are allergic to something that is exacerbating your flare-ups.
· Fragrances – It is recommended to avoid moisturizers that contain fragrances or dyes, as these can irritate your skin.
· Patch testing – Your doctor may recommend a patch test before you use a product. This involves applying a small amount of the product to your wrist or elbow 48 hours before use and watching out for any adverse reactions on that area of skin. This is a good way of checking if the product is right for you.
Restricting your diet may not help your atopic dermatitis (AD). Often, AD flare-ups are mistakenly attributed to food. While food allergies may exist alongside your condition, you may not need to avoid any particular food groups to effectively manage it. Ask your doctor whether they recommend any changes to your diet and follow their guidance.
While atopic dermatitis (AD) is commonly thought to be an allergic skin disease, there is no evidence that it is caused by allergies. We don’t know exactly what causes AD, but we do know that it involves the immune system and damage to the skin barrier itself. Identifying and avoiding allergic triggers may help you manage your condition and reduce the number of flare-ups you have, but it won't make it go away completely. If you're not sure what is triggering your flare-ups, it's worth talking to your doctor to see if there are any common factors.
Although making changes to your lifestyle could help to increase your comfort levels (e.g., the materials of the clothes you buy), an important step in managing your atopic dermatitis (AD) is to talk to your doctor about your options.
Your doctor can best support you if they understand the unique impact the condition is having on your everyday life, your goals and your preferences. They can then work with you to find a management plan that works for you.
Your itch is definitely not all in your mind. While it is recommended that you scratch as little as possible, it's not as simple as mind over matter. Itches are extremely frustrating, and scratching is difficult to avoid. Itch is an uncomfortable skin sensation that can be caused by a variety of triggers. The sensation travels from the skin, along the nerves to the brain, which interprets these signals as an itch and initiates a scratch response. Recent research suggests that itching is the result of a different message being sent to the brain than those that are sent in response to pain, meaning that your body's response to itch is completely normal. Speak to your doctor if your condition is so uncomfortable that your sleep and daily activities are being affected.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is not caused by stress; however, the way the body responds to stress can trigger a flare-up or make your condition worse. This may create more emotional stress and difficulty which can worsen your condition. If you feel like your AD is worsening due to stress, it may be time to start a new conversation with your doctor.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic condition, and unfortunately, there is no cure to date. While it's true that some children may have periods where their AD improves, many struggle with the condition well into adulthood. The good news is that AD can be managed through various different treatment options. AD can relapse in some people; if you are struggling with your condition, it may be time to re-engage with your doctor.
Whether you should or shouldn’t bathe every day with atopic dermatitis (AD) or eczema is an ongoing debate, and you should discuss which approach is best for you with your doctor. Some dermatologists say that bathing too much dries out the skin, whereas others suggest bathing helps to hydrate the skin. If you do bathe every day, putting on moisturizer after bathing can help your skin stay hydrated for longer. Ultimately, you should bathe however often is suitable for your skin. You may find that less frequent washes are better for you, or that bathing most days helps to keep your skin hydrated. Listening to your body helps you understand how your skin reacts to external triggers.
Why should I have a new conversation?
Living with atopic dermatitis (AD) can impact many aspects of your daily life. It’s important to remember that everybody responds to treatment differently, and no one treatment will be effective for everyone. Re-engage with your doctor to find the right treatment, or treatments, for you. Are you ready to make the call?
Take the first step towards a brand-new conversation with your doctor;
find out the impact AD has on your everyday life.