What is atopic dermatitis (eczema), and how does it appear?
Atopic dermatitis is the most common skin disease in children and affects up to 3% of the adult population, and its incidence is increasing worldwide. So it is important to correctly diagnose the disease and effectively manage its treatment, especially mild forms, where the basic requirement is to actively prevent further progression of the disease.
Atopic dermatitis is an itchy acute, sub-acute or chronic relapsing inflammatory skin disease in children and adults with specific hereditary disorders in skin structure and function, immune disorders and neurohumoral regulation. The disease is polygenically inherited with variably expressive, mild clinical manifestations. The disease tends to be inherited in families that are also prone to other atopic diseases such as allergic rhinitis, asthma and other allergic diseases. A number of internal and external factors contribute to the appearance of the disease.
Atopic is derived from the Greek word atopos, meaning strange, foreign or something that runs atypically, not normally. A common feature of atopic diseases is increased skin and mucous membrane sensitivity to substances commonly found in the environment and which enter the body through the skin, respiratory tract or digestive system, where atopic patients encounter an increased and unbalanced reactive immune response. Hence the skin of atopic individuals react disproportionately to normal stimuli, so-called “skin hyper-reactivity”, which results in dry and inflamed skin with tiny eczema buds to plaques, swelling, redness and oozing. There is also an innate reduced threshold for pruritus: already mild irritation of the skin causes severe itching and seizures which force the patient to excessively scratch the skin, inflaming it and forming even worse excoriations that can become the gateway to bacterial superinfection.