Atopic dermatitis (AD), a chronic, recurrent inflammatory skin disease of hereditary nature, has tripled in the last 30 years, and affects 5-15% of the Spanish population, reaching 20% in the case of children, the most affected by this disorder.
The doctors Mª Ángeles Navarro and Lidia Jáuregui, specialists in pediatrics and dermatology, affirm that the stress generated by the Western lifestyle, the pollution of the cities, the environmental variations that are taking place in recent times, and the early exposure to pollens, mites or allergens, are among the main causes of such a significant increase.
One of the most important factors that determine the degree of affectation of the patient is the age when the disease appears:
- Infant up to two years of age: the lesions appear on the cheeks and extend through the chin, neck and forehead, and through the scalp, although this is less frequent. If it is an intense outbreak, it can also reach the thorax and extremities (arms and legs).
- Up to ten years old: the lesions are maintained in the body and extremities. The eruptions or eczema they are dry plaques in the folds of the extremities (of the elbow and behind the knees), also in the backs of the hands, and sometimes even around the mouth.
- In the adolescent and adult: It appears in the folds of the elbow and behind the knees, on the back of the hand, on the wrists, and on the groin. They are very dry lesions and cause a lot of itching.
Advice for self-care of atopic dermatitis
The doctors Navarro and Jáuregui advise that patients with atopic dermatitis maximize self-care, especially during times of the year when temperature changes are sudden and frequent. Some tips from these specialists are:
- Avoid very hot environments with low humidity, such as those produced by hot air heaters inside buildings or automobiles, since they dry out the skin, which increases the itching. The recommended room temperature is 18ºC, with a humidity of 50%.
- Do not wear too much warm clothing or wool clothes, as this could trigger an outbreak of atopic dermatitis.
- Do not do intense physical exercise, because the sweat increases the sensation of itching and this encourages scratching.
- Apply to the skin specific lotions and moisturizers that do not contain irritants - no perfumes, no dyes or preservatives ... - and that do include natural active ingredients rich in essential fatty acids and microplate. This reduces the risk of overinfection and protects the skin, strengthening its barrier function, reducing the sensation of itching and irritation that occur in atopic skin.
Source: STADA Consumer Health