What is Atopic Dermatitis (AD)?

Atopic Dermatitis (AD) or eczema is an inflammatory condition that causes the skin to get red and itchy. It is a condition that starts in childhood, but can progress into a chronic condition that may last throughout life. Currently, no cure exists for AD.[1]


What causes Atopic Dermatitis? [2][3][4]

AD is caused by a combination of factors that vary between patients, including:


Immune system overreactions


Family history of similar conditions


Exposure to allergens


Stress levels

Signs and Symptoms [1]

Common signs and symptoms include:


Dry skin


Itching, especially severe itching at night


Red or brownish-grey patches on the skin


Small, raised bumps on the skin


Thick, cracked or scaly skin


Raw, sensitive or swollen skin from scratching [1]

Common Triggers


Environmental triggers [5]

Dust, strong chemicals, pollen and animal dander are common irritants to the skin that trigger responses in AD patients.


Dietary triggers [6]

Some foods may cause AD symptoms to worsen and may be tied to underlying food allergies. These vary from person to person.


Stress [4]

Stress causes the body to produce cortisol to prepare for a “fight or flight” situation, but too much cortisol can trigger inflammatory responses that cause or worsen AD symptoms.

Lifestyle changes to manage AD

Managing exposure to triggers[7][8]
Recognise what your AD triggers are and avoid them as much as you can. This may include allergens such as pollen, strong chemicals such as certain brands of soaps and detergents. Other potential irritants at home may include dust, wool and rough clothing which may trigger the body’s itching. Avoid these whenever possible and try to maintain a clean home environment.

Protecting yourself when outside[9]
Wear suitable, loose-fitting clothing and try to avoid triggers such as allergens or sweating.

Managing relief[9][10]
Regular bathing or showering (kept to about 10 minutes) can help to keep the skin hydrated, prevent infection and soothe sensitive parts of the skin.

Managing your body temperature[7][10]
Staying hydrated and moisturised is important for keeping your body temperature regulated.

1: Mayo Clinic. Atopic dermatitis (eczema) [Internet]. USA, Mayo Clinic; 2020 [updated 2020 June 12, cited 2022 July 26]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atopic-dermatitis-eczema/symptoms-causes/syc-20353273
2: Healthline. Is Eczema Contagious? [Internet]. [Place Unknown], Healthline; 2018 [updated 2018 August 28, cited 2022 July 26]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/is-eczema-contagious#causes
3: Medline Plus. Atopic dermatitis [Internet]. Bethesda, MD, USA; National Library of Medicine (US); 2017 [updated 2017 October 1, cited 2022 July 26]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/atopic-dermatitis/#inheritance
4: National Eczema Association. Eczema and Emotional Wellness [Internet]. Novato, CA, USA, National Eczema Association [cited 2022 July 26]. Available from: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema-emotional-wellness/
5: National Eczema Association. Eczema Causes and Triggers [Internet]. Novato, CA, USA, National Eczema Association [cited 2022 July 26]. Available from: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/causes-and-triggers-of-eczema/
6: Ellen Greenlaw, Stephanie S. Gardner. Diet and Eczema: The Facts [Internet]. New York City, NY, USA. WebMD; 2020 [updated 2020 June 2, cited 2022 July 26]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/eczema-diet 
7: Winchester Hospital. Lifestyle Changes to Manage Eczema [Internet]. Winchester, MA, USA, Winchester Hospital [cited 2022 July 26]. Available from: https://www.winchesterhospital.org/health-library/article?id=19375
8: National Eczema Society. Household Irritants and Eczema [Internet]. London, UK, National Eczema Society [cited 2022 July 26]. Available from: https://eczema.org/information-and-advice/triggers-for-eczema/household-irritants-and-eczema/ 
9: Medical News Today. How to treat atopic dermatitis [Internet]. Brighton, East Sussex, UK. Medical News Today [updated 2022 June 8, cited 2022 July 26]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323493#treatments
10: Thomson Specialist Skin Centre. Misconceptions of Eczema in Singapore [Internet]. Singapore, Thomson Specialist Skin Centre [cited 2022 July 26]. Available from: https://thomsonspecialistskincentre.com/misconceptions-of-eczema-in-singapore/ 


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