The 10 basic tips for atopic skin care

What is atopic dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease characterized by xerosis or dry skin, pruritus or itching and the presence of different areas of reddened and scaly skin.

Atopic dermatitis often appears on the back of the knees (popliteal region).
Atopic dermatitis often appears on the back of the knees (popliteal region).

It can appear in any location but typically appears on the back of the knees and elbows, face, hands and feet.

Atopic dermatitis follows a chronic course with periods of improvement and flares of worsening. When the onset is in childhood the dermatitis usually improves with age but this is not the case with adult atopic dermatitis.

The cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown. It has a genetic basis and, although it is not of allergic cause, it frequently appears in patients with an atopic basis, i.e. those with allergic rhinitis or asthma. Worsening outbreaks often coincide with lack of skin hydration and periods of physical or emotional stress. Cold and dry weather is the most damaging for people with atopic dermatitis while humidity and sunshine usually benefit them.

Top 10 tips for atopic skin care:

    1. Hygiene is very important, as atopic skin is at a higher risk of becoming infected by viruses, bacteria or fungi. Hygiene can be daily, being preferable short showers or baths with lukewarm water.
    2. Daily use of moisturizing creams is essential to avoid new eczema outbreaks.
    3. The best time to apply moisturizer is right after bathing with the skin still damp. It spreads more easily and is absorbed faster.
    4. Both creams and gels should be specific for atopic skin, as they do not usually contain perfumes or preservatives such as khaton (methylchloroisothiazinolone) or parabens that may sensitize the patient.
    5. The diet should be normal and balanced. Dermatitis is not caused by a food allergy, although people with atopic dermatitis have more frequent food allergies, for example to certain fruits, nuts, eggs, etc.
    6. It is recommended to wear cotton clothing and avoid wool and synthetic fibers.
    7. Humidifiers are useful in the home, in the car, in the office…
    8. Irritants in the house, such as dust, animal epithelium, etc., should be avoided.
    9. Controlling emotional stress is helpful in avoiding flare-ups of relapse or worsening of dermatitis.
    10. It is advisable to see a dermatologist regularly to treat complications and to learn how to avoid and control outbreaks.

You can obtain more information about atopic dermatitis from the Association of patients and families of atopic dermatitis: ADEA.