Atopic dermatitis is a skin disease that is not curable but relatively easy to treat. It runs chronically in relapses and is not contagious. The word “atopic” means that the skin is prone to allergic reactions and is hypersensitive.
Symptoms include red scaly skin, severe itching and weeping skin changes. It can be of varying severity and also depends on age. Patients affected by Atopic Dermatitis are also more likely to suffer from other allergies, such as hay fever. The therapy of the skin disease usually consists of anti-inflammatory creams.
Causes of atopic dermatitis
The causes are complex and not yet fully understood. It is assumed that there is not only one cause, but that an interaction of many factors causes atopic dermatitis. Experts believe that genetic factors, changes in the immune system and environmental influences all play a role.
The word “atopic” comes from the Greek and means “out of place” or “extraordinary”. Experts understand it to mean an excessive immune reaction to certain stimuli, called trigger factors. Various substances can cause an allergic reaction.
Among the allergens/trigger factors are House dust and mites Pollen Mould Food such as milk, eggs, soya or nuts Emotional stress Irritants such as chemicals and cleaning agents Textiles such as wool Pathogens such as bacteria and fungi Wet cold weather
- House dust and mites
- Foods such as milk, eggs, soya or nuts
- Emotional stress
- Irritants, such as chemicals and detergents
- Textiles, like wool
- Pathogens, such as bacteria and fungi
- Cold and wet weather
- Washing habits and medication
The triggers vary from patient to patient and must be determined differently for each patient. While the trigger factors can be easily determined, a genetic cause is difficult to prove. Many genes have been classified as “suspect” in the development of the disease, but it is difficult to determine which gene is the cause of atopic dermatitis.
Studies show that the gene defects lead to a disrupted skin barrier and thus make the skin more susceptible to environmental factors/allergens. In Europe, the incidence is about 5-20% in childhood and decreases with age. 90% of all patients develop the disease before the age of five.
In most cases the disease gets better in old age and therefore only 30% of all affected persons complain about symptoms in adulthood. In comparison to today’s situation 60-70 years ago, atopic dermatitis occurs 4 times more frequently. The reasons are not quite clear.
Possible causes are better hygiene and changed living conditions. It is clear that children who grow up on a farm are less likely to have allergies than children who grow up in the city. This phenomenon is associated with the lack of exposure to bacteria.