What is atopic eczema?
There are several types of eczema. One of the commonest is atopic eczema (often also referred as “infantile eczema”. Atopy is an inherited predisposition for atopic diseases, namely asthma, hay fever, allergic conjunctivitis, atopic eczema and hives. Some have only one atopic disease, while others may have several. People with atopy are more likely to react over-sensitively in the respiratory system and the skin, where defense cells are activated and inflammatory mediators are released.
Itching in atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory process of the skin, rather than an allergy or an infection.
For the skin to be flexible and stretchable, it must contain a certain degree of water content. Eczema have an altered moisture balance, where excessive water content is lost from the skin. The reasons are not entirely clear, but decreased sebum production appears to have played a role.
With few exceptions, we observe that the eczema patients always have dry skin. Dry skin cracks easily, giving a sore and itchy sensation.
During an acute episode of eczema, blood flow in the skin increases and causes swelling. As a result, more Inflammatory mediators are transported to the skin, compromising skin’s defense against pathogens.
Researchers believe that the pathogenesis of eczema lies in the disorder of the immune system. Serious infection is rare, but it is common for bacterial overgrowth to prolong the course of eczema and complicate treatment process.
All the aforementioned causes render the skin less resistant to external insults.
Eczema has a chronic disease course, but it can improve in periods without exacerbation. A number of factors can aggravate eczema. Among the most important ones are: Dry air, heat, sunbathing, sweating, prolonged contact with water, soap, cosmetics, pets, certain type of clothing materials infections (skin or general), stress, cigarette smoke, intake of certain food.