Atopic dermatitis in adults and adolescents
Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is most common in young children
and infants, but persistent, irritating inflammations can also
occur well into adolescence and adulthood. In some cases, the first
symptoms of the condition may not even show up until later in life.
Recent research indicates that the prevalence of this disease is
actually increasing. This may be due to environmental factors, such
as extreme hot or cold temperatures and air pollutants.
Individuals with eczema often experience unbearable itching,
particularly at night. While scratching may provide short-term
relief, it only makes symptoms worse and leaves skin cracked and
more susceptible to infection. These symptoms lead to sleeplessness
and irritability, and ultimately, lower productivity at work or
school. These factors, combined with an eczema patient's physical
appearance, can be life-altering and have a devastating impact on
the person's self-esteem and their families as well.
Many of the 15 million sufferers of eczema are adults and
teenagers who have endured the disease for years. In older
patients, eczema generally involves the hands, neck, chest, inner
elbows, back of the knees and the ankles. The condition usually
affects more than one area at a time, resulting in multiple areas
of infection and itching. Available treatments include:
- Topical prescription steroid creams and ointments
- Phototherapy with ultraviolet A or B waves
- Antibiotics for skin infections
- Antihistamines and immunosuppressive drugs
Many dermatologists report that sufferers are currently
dissatisfied with the available treatments and desperately seek a
new form of relief. This dissatisfaction often leads to poor
patient compliance or a discontinuation of therapy.
Research continues to emerge linking eczema flares to stress.
Many dermatologists are integrating discussions about stress
management into their patient visits. They will often provide
lifestyle management tips to help patients minimize the stress in
their lives and ultimately reduce the chance of inflammations.
Activities include practical lifestyle tips such as yoga,
meditation, setting priorities and finding an enjoyable hobby.
Reducing inflammations requires establishing a regular skin care
routine and the development of a treatment strategy by a
dermatologist. Here are tips a dermatologist may typically provide
- Wear cotton or natural fabrics to avoid common fiber
- Avoid scratching or rubbing affected skin.
- Take brief, lukewarm baths and showers using mild soap or
non-soap cleansers (avoiding extremely hot temperatures). Gently
pat the skin dry with a soft towel (avoid rubbing dry skin).
- Apply lubricants (creams or ointments, as suggested by the
physician), immediately after bathing.
- Recognize and avoid early signs of skin infection, such as tiny
pustules, oozing sores, or crusty, yellow blisters.
American Academy of Dermatology,
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a
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