Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes red, scaly, itchy rashes on the skin. Eczema is also a skin condition in which the rash is dry and flaky. Understandably, many people are quite confused as to what their differences are.
Atopic Dermatitis And Eczema The Same?
Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema. They are often identified interchangeably to refer to dryness, itchiness, and other skin lesions. However, there are distinctions between these two conditions that need to be taken into account before one can make an informed decision about the type of condition they have.
While atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema, the definition covers several different types of skin inflammation. These include allergic contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, neurodermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis.
So are they the same? Not quite. Consider atopic dermatitis as a sub-branch of eczema.
Think of it this way, facet of the feline family is the lion and tiger. Are lions and tigers the same? Not necessarily, but they both belong to the feline family. The same principle applies there; eczema is the main category like the feline family, and atopic dermatitis is just one of the many types of eczema.
What Is Eczema?
To better understand atopic dermatitis, we first have to understand its main category: eczema.
Eczema is a chronic condition that can be difficult to manage with topical medications and other treatments. It is characterized by red, itchy, and dry patches developing on the skin. The cause of eczema remains unknown, but it has been associated with allergies, stress, contact dermatitis, or even poor hygiene.
Eczema affects around 10% of children and 2% of adults in the United States. It is more prevalent in children than adults and primarily affects infants and young children.
Managing eczema includes keeping the skin moisturized, washing the affected area often with soap or water to remove oils, and using topical treatments such as corticosteroids, ointments, or creams to ease itchiness and heal cracks in the skin.
What Is Atopic Dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis (AD) can be challenging to treat because it’s unclear what triggers and causes the condition. It is believed that atopic dermatitis arises from an abnormal immune response to a trigger such as an allergen or stressor. There is also no cure for atopic dermatitis yet, but there are ways to manage the symptoms and keep them under control.
This type of eczema is a chronic skin condition that typically appears on the scalp, face, or neck. It can also appear on other body areas such as around the eyes, ears, or groin area. Some people with AD have mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms that limit their ability to function in their daily lives.
The most common treatment for AD is topical corticosteroids and moisturizers. Topical corticosteroids reduce inflammation, and moisturizers help prevent dryness from occurring on the skin surface.
Atopic dermatitis is the most familiar type of eczema, so many people often simply call it eczema. There are a few other classifications of eczema that also describe other symptoms.
Triggers Of Atopic Dermatitis
The disease starts when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s cells and tissues. The most common triggers for atopic dermatitis are irritants like pollution or cigarette smoke, allergens like house dust mites, and infections from bacteria or viruses like the flu virus. The triggers of atopic dermatitis vary from person to person.
Physical And Psychological Triggers
Triggers are specific factors that cause atopic dermatitis to manifest in some people while not affecting others. There are many triggers for atopic dermatitis, but they fit into two main categories—physical and psychological triggers. Physical triggers include stress, allergies, chemicals in your environment, or food intolerances, while psychological triggers include emotions or thoughts (such as negative thoughts).
A common trigger for atopic dermatitis is psychosocial stress or events that cause an emotional response. It can be induced by anything, from work or school deadlines to significant life changes like a death in the family. People with atopic dermatitis usually have very high levels of stress hormones in their bodies, which over time can make their immune systems more sensitive to the triggers that would generally cause inflammation.
Studies have shown that stress can exacerbate symptoms of atopic dermatitis by triggering the release of cytokines, which are molecules in the body that cause allergic reactions.
Contact Your Doctor
Eczema and atopic dermatitis are chronic skin conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. Several factors can trigger them. The best way to tackle eczema or atopic dermatitis is to identify the triggers and avoid them. Consult a medical expert like a dermatologist, immunologist, or physician specializing in skin conditions.
Minimize The Effects Of Eczema
Meanwhile, while you are still waiting for your doctor’s appointment, you can minimize the effects of atopic dermatitis or any other type of eczema by doing the following steps:
- Moisturize Using Natural Oils: There are many ways to moisturize your body, but some can cause more harm than good. For example, you should not use lotions with alcohol because they can irritate your skin and make eczema worse. Instead, you should use oils like jojoba oil or coconut oil because they have natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation and redness in the patches.
- Limit Showers Or Baths: When experiencing eczema, you should limit your showers to 10-15 minutes. Likewise, do not use hot water since it can cause a worsening of your symptoms, so use lukewarm water instead.
- Use Gentle Soaps: Look for soaps made of natural ingredients and free from harsh chemicals. These soaps can help minimize the effects of eczema on your skin by providing hydration and soothing irritation while also being gentle enough for daily use. The most popular types of mild soap include castile soap, olive oil soap, milk soap, and bar soap made from organic ingredients like coconut and palm oil.
Handling the effects of atopic dermatitis or any other type of eczema can be challenging, so if you need assistance, contact and reach out to our clinic, High Life Integrative Medicine. We offer services that help our patients handle skin-related concerns.