Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema): Causes, Treatment, And Preventive Care


Season change may spark off many minor to severe health problems. Our skin, in particular, is very sensitive to sudden weather changes. Cuts, bruises, and dry skin can happen for various reasons. Topical treatments might help in providing relief, but if you are facing constant itching, rash-like symptoms, red and inflamed skin, chances are you suffer from atopic dermatitis (eczema). 

Atopic dermatitis can occur at any age. It is chronic, can flare periodically, and has no cure. However, treatments and preventive measures can stop fresh outbreaks and relieve itching. Let us enhance our understanding of this skin disorder known as atopic dermatitis or eczema. 

Atopic Dermatitis Eczema: Definition And Numbers  

The word “Atopic” shows a genetic tendency to develop an extreme allergy to substances or conditions. The term “eczema” is often interchangeable with “atopic dermatitis.” Clinically, atopic dermatitis is a common type of eczema. 

Eczema is not a minor disease. In the US, over 16.5 million adults and 9.6 million children have this condition. Hormonal changes in women during their reproductive years make them more susceptible to eczema. Aside from physical health, eczema can have a significant impact on mental health.  

Causes And Risk Factors

The exact cause of eczema is uncertain. An overactive immune system responding to irritants can be the likely reason. Abnormal response to the body’s proteins is also a probable cause of eczema. 

Eczema flare-up begins when the skin shows multiple symptoms. Common triggers are:

  • Rough and itchy clothing materials like wool and polyester
  • Leather dyes and temporary tattoos
  • Chemicals in laundry detergents that can dry out the skin
  • Mineral oils and solvents  
  • Uneven humidity level
  • Temperature fluctuations
  • Food allergies 
  • Infections of the upper respiratory tract
  • Skin-care products and perfumes containing alcohol
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Mold, pollen, and dust mites
  • Allergenic foods like eggs and peanuts
  • Stress
  • Fungal, bacterial, or viral infections
  • Pet dander

There are several risk factors for developing eczema. Children suffering from asthma or hay fever are prone to this skin disease. Even adults below the age of 30 can develop symptoms. Cannabidiol (CBD) creams may help reduce eczema symptoms like itchy and dry skin. Consult a dermatologist or buy medication from reputed e-commerce portals like

Atopic Dermatitis Symptoms

Eczema symptoms vary depending on the extent of infection. Common symptoms include:

  • Dry, scaly, itchy skin patches
  • Open and crusted sores
  • Sore and swollen skin
  • Raised bumps on the skin when scratched
  • Changed skin color

Skin lesions may develop on the upper arms, insides of the elbow, thighs, behind the knees, around the mouth. Itching can lead to scratching and rubbing, further irritating the skin. This “itch-scratch” cycle aggravates eczema symptoms.

Some people confuse dermatitis symptoms with insect bites or allergies. Consult a skin specialist to clear your doubts and get treatment.         

Diagnosing Dermatitis

A skin specialist will first do a physical examination of your skin to identify any characteristic rashes symbolic of the illness. A skin biopsy (removing a skin sample for a diagnostic test) will help confirm the disease and infection stage.

Your doctor may also ask you about your hygiene habits and family history of allergic conditions and skin-related issues. Getting a blood test is also part of pre-diagnostic tests to find out any immune backlash or an allergy test to trace any triggers for eczema flare-ups. 

Dermatitis Treatment

There is no cure for eczema. The treatment aims to minimize the symptoms and heal the skin as much as possible. Effective treatments include medication, moisturizers, and skincare routines.

  • Medication includes topical corticosteroids (creams, lotions, ointments) in varying degrees of strength.
  • Antihistamines that induce sleep and prevent nighttime scratching         
  • Oral immunosuppressants
  • Injectable drug (self-administered)
  • Antibiotic or antifungal drugs to treat skin infections
  • Light therapy that treats eczema with ultraviolet light
  • Wet wrap therapy that moisturizes the infected skin with a damp gauze wrap    

Dietary changes also help control eczema symptoms. Your skin specialist may give you a list of foods to avoid and put you on an elimination diet wherein you avoid eating problematic foods that could aggravate your eczema.

Think Preventive Care

Here are some handy tips to minimize eczema bouts:

Moisturize your skin twice a day

Apply dermatologist-approved creams, lotions, and ointments to lock in skin moisture. Petroleum jelly is an ideal option to prevent atopic dermatitis. 

Identify dermatitis triggers

Find out the things that can worsen your skin health. Sweat, soaps, detergents, weather changes, stress, dust, pollen, obesity are problem areas. Limit your contact with these skin irritation agents. Consult a neonatologist or pediatrician if you suspect your newborn or infant experiencing flares from certain foods like milk, eggs, soy, or wheat. 

Shorten your bath time

Limit your showers to 10 minutes. Avoid taking a hot water bath as it can cause skin dryness. A warm water bath is conducive to skin. 

Use mild soaps

Harsh carbolic soaps can cause skin dryness. Soaps with deodorants can remove natural oils from your skin, causing dryness. Use dermatologist-suggested soaps with skin-appropriate pH. 

Consider a bleach bath

A bleach bath twice a week can help prevent skin flares. It also decreases bacteria growth on your skin and minimizes infections. Add half a cup of household bleach to a 40-gallon bathtub containing warm water. Soak your infected skin in bleach-treated water for 10 minutes. 

Dry yourself

Pat your wet skin with a fresh towel after a bath. Avoid rubbing a towel on your skin. Apply skin moisturizer to prevent dryness from creeping in.      

Final Thoughts

Eczema does not spread with contact. Watch your diet and lifestyle habits and wear skin-friendly natural cotton fabrics to avoid the onset of atopic dermatitis eczema.