Atopic dermatitis is a skin condition and the most common form of eczema. It appears as a red and itchy rash, which can sometimes become cracked and rough, and is most commonly found on your cheeks, arms or legs.
Dermatitis is any kind of skin inflammation, and atopic means that it’s caused by a reaction that occurred in some other part of your body—but not from something that has had direct contact with your skin. Eczema or atopic dermatitis is often confused with a condition called contact dermatitis, which is caused by your skin touching an inflammatory substance, such as soap, fragrance, skin lotion, or jewelry.
Atopic dermatitis is considered to be severe. It usually begins during childhood and may resolve as a child grows older, however, some children will have recurring episodes of eczema throughout their lives. In addition, if you had atopic dermatitis as a child, you may be prone to dry and irritated skin, skin infections, and other kinds of dermatitis as an adult.
The symptoms of atopic dermatitis include very dry and scaly skin, itching, redness, a rash, cracks behind the ears, and sometimes moist or crusting areas during exacerbations. Because atopic dermatitis is very itchy, the affected skin can become broken or damaged from repeated scratching.
Scientists don’t know exactly what causes atopic dermatitis, but they have one big clue. People with atopic dermatitis also tend to suffer from other allergic conditions, most commonly asthma and hay fever. It’s also known that atopic dermatitis occurs when a trigger from inside or outside your body sets off an immune reaction that causes your skin to become inflamed.
In addition, scientists believe that there’s a genetic link to atopic dermatitis. Researchers have found that some people with eczema have a genetic mutation that affects a protein that helps to maintain a healthy skin barrier. When your skin barrier is weak, it can become dry and cracked, allowing harmful microbes to enter. In addition, you’re at a higher risk for atopic dermatitis if one or both of your parents have hay fever, asthma, or atopic dermatitis.
Controlling Your Atopic Dermatitis
Because atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema that’s caused by an immune reaction, understanding and avoiding triggers is an important first step in controlling flare-ups and severity. This may take some careful observation, because a reaction may occur from hours to days after exposure. Some common triggers include:
- Environmental allergens, such as pollen, dust, mold, and pet dander
- Exposure to certain foods such as sugar, gluten, alcohol or common allergens
- Very dry skin, which can become cracked and prone to inflammation and infection
- Exposure to chemicals, such as cleaning products, detergents, and beauty products
- Stress or an emotional upset
- Exposure to temperature extremes
- Exposure to microbes in your environment, such as bacteria, viruses, or fungal infections
- Hormonal fluctuations
In addition, if you struggle with atopic dermatitis, keeping your skin clean and regularly moisturized helps to maintain a healthy protective skin barrier.
How BodaHealth Can Help with Atopic Dermatitis and Eczema
Atopic dermatitis tends to be a chronic condition, and sometimes you need help getting it under control. At BodaHealth, we’re able to help in a number of ways. We can work with you to identify and control triggering factors, reduce itching, strengthen your immune system, decrease inflammation, and relieve stress. We accomplish this through a number of healing tools including:
–Chinese herbal medicine. A number of clinical studies have found that Chinese herbs can be an effective treatment for moderate and severe cases of atopic eczema, even when conventional treatments have failed. Researchers noted that subjects showed an improvement is redness and surface damage to the skin during the time they were taking the herbs. At BodaHealth, our practitioners of Chinese medicine understand the value of herbal medicine in the treatment of dermatological conditions, and they have years of experience in prescribing the appropriate herbs for your condition.
–Acupuncture is an important and effective treatment for many dermatological conditions, because it can help to reduce inflammation, support your immune system, balance hormones, and relieve stress. In addition, researchers have found that acupuncture can help relieve itching and other symptoms related to atopic dermatitis. In many cases a combination of Chinese herbs and acupuncture is the most effective course of treatment, and at BodaHealth, your acupuncturist will develop a plan that’s specific to your unique diagnosis and needs.
-At BodaHealth, our naturopathic physicians treat atopic dermatitis by assessing your diet and digestion to uncover deficiencies and identify triggers. They are also able to order lab tests to discover if a hormonal imbalance or exposure to toxins are causing your skin condition. As a part of your treatment, our naturopathic doctors may prescribe vitamins, herbs, and other nutritional supplements, nutrient injections, and dietary and lifestyle strategies. They also offer primary medical care and are able to prescribe medications when necessary.
-Scientists have discovered that dietary factors can trigger or aggravate atopic dermatitis. For that reason, our naturopathic physicians and acupuncture practitioners believe that diet and nutrition are a crucial component in successfully treating patients with this skin condition. It’s important to rule out foods that act as allergens. However, beyond identifying triggers, diet is important in reducing the inflammatory response and supporting healthy immunity. When it comes to nutritional therapy, our practitioners understand that there is no single best solution. They will work with you to determine your unique needs and develop a plan that works for you.
Atopic dermatitis doesn’t have to mean a lifetime of redness and itching. At BodaHealth, our practitioners understand how best to treat this condition. If you’re suffering from atopic dermatitis, let us help you. Contact us today to find out how.