Atopic comes from the word “atopy” which describes a group who have a history, either themselves or in the family, of asthma, eczema, hay fever, and dry skin. Thus, atopic dermatitis is a form of eczema that is a chronic condition which produces a symmetrical occurrence of itchy rashes. These rashes can become irritated and red with inflammation, cracking, oozing, scaling and crusting.
Fifteen to twenty million people in this country have symptoms of atopic dermatitis and these cases make up up to 20% of the cases that end up at the dermatologists office. Many people who have atopic dermatitis developed it early in life, and mostly before the age of five. Both females and males have equal chance of developing this itchy rash and are more than likely living in low humidity areas where there is less moisture in the air.
Atopic dermatitis can start off as a chronic condition even for infants. There are typically unpredictable cycles of this rash condition with it sometimes going into remission for periods of time while progressing at other times. With luck, many youngsters outgrow their atopic dermatitis condition.
There seems to be a relation to both genetic and environmental factors when it comes to atopic dermatitis. Findings show that those with hay fever or asthma or have incidences of it in the family are more susceptible to forming atopic dermatitis. Some researchers suggest there may be abnormalities in certain cells in bone marrow which deal with immunological response. Luckily, atopic dermatitis is not contagious.
When skin is in normal condition, the outer layer called the epidermis holds dead and dry skin cells which provide a protective barrier against outside irritants as well as keep the skin hydrated. When you have atopic dermatitis, moisture is lost through the epidermal layer causing cracking and dry skin. Protection of the skin is decreased, leaving you susceptible to all kinds of other skin conditions like fungal infections, warts, bacterial infections and even the herpes virus that causes cold sores.