Atopic dermatitis is a very common condition that affects people of all ages. While it is seen more often in children, adults can suffer from it as well. Also known as eczema, atopic dermatitis is considered a chronic condition. While symptoms can wax and wane, there are things that make patches of itchy, red skin much worse. Here are four things you don’t realize are making your atopic dermatitis worse.
The itch that comes from atopic dermatitis disease can be insidious. No matter what you try, you can't stop the compulsion to scratch. Unfortunately, the more you scratch, the worse that itchy feeling gets. Medically known as the itch-scratch syndrome, people suffering from atopic dermatitis may have trouble breaking the cycle.
Scratching may feel like a relief, however, it's short-lived. Ongoing scratching also makes the condition worse. Scratching the rash causes increased inflammation, which also increases the risk of developing an infection. If this occurs, you'll need to complete a course of antibiotics. Soaking the affected area with a cool cloth and applying aloe vera can help relieve the itch.
Having your hands in water can also exacerbate your symptoms, especially if you have atopic dermatitis on your hands. The hot water causes areas of inflammation to dry out even more. Without moisture, the risk of inflammation and infection is increased ten-fold. Furthermore, chemicals in dish soap can also irritate the skin. Always wear rubber gloves when washing dishes to prevent your hands from drying out.
Also, make sure you aren't lingering too long in the bath or shower as well. As relaxing as a hot bath or shower feels, once you step out and the skin starts to dry, areas of dermatitis are affected. Keep bathing time as short as possible and always apply soothing lotion afterwards.
The severity of your atopic dermatitis disease also depends on the temperature. We’ve pointed out how heat can dry your skin out even more. However, hot water isn't the only culprit. Whether the air is hot and sticky outside or you just hit the gym, sudden temperature changes can negatively affect areas of atopic dermatitis. In fact, you can suffer from dermatitis flares even in the dead of winter.
Atopic dermatitis is also affected by stress. While medical professionals still don’t understand the direct link between the two, there are various interpretations. While atopic dermatitis isn’t caused by emotional stress, it can certainly make the symptoms feel more intense. Finding ways to reduce stress may have a positive effect on how often and how severe your dermatitis flares are.
Living with atopic dermatitis means having an action plan. No two patients are the same, so consult with your physician and together, create a treatment plan that works best for you and your skin.
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Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, Colo. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn't writing. You can follow her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.