HomeLIFESTYLEDermatitis or atopic skin: how to identify?

Dermatitis or atopic skin: how to identify?

Dermatitis, or atopic skin, is an increasingly common pathology. Understand what it consists of and how to control it.

Atopic dermatitis, or atopic skin As it is commonly known, it is an increasingly common skin disease that, although closely associated with childhood, can still appear and manifest itself during adulthood.

Although some studies point to a greater aggravation in winter, due to the cold and dry skin, it is certain that salt water baths and sweat caused by high summer temperatures also make atopic skin suffer. So, get a better understanding of this health problem, its evolution and what you can do to control your symptoms.

Dermatitis or atopic skin: learn how to prevent itching and lesions

Dermatitis or atopic skin is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. Its incidence in the population has been increasing in recent years, especially in urban areas. Currently, this problem will affect between 10% and 20% of the pediatric population, both boys and girls.

It usually appears in childhood (90% of cases occur before the age of 5), especially in the first year of life (when 60% of cases are diagnosed).

The prognosis is favorable, since 60% of children present a reduction or complete disappearance of the lesions before puberty. However, often, the disappearance of atopic dermatitis gives rise to the appearance of another atopy, such as asthma or rhinitis.

It is believed that the later the manifestation of the disease, the longer the persistence of its symptoms. In Portugal, this is a pathology that affects about 10% of children.


The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is still unknown. However, immunological mechanisms of immediate and delayed hypersensitivity are associated with its origin, identical to those that are at the origin of bronchial asthma or rhinitis.

Thus, it is thought that the hereditary component may be important. Generally speaking, atopic dermatitis affects people with a personal or family history of asthma, allergic rhinitis or atopic dermatitis. For example, a child whose parent has an atopic condition (asthma, rhinitis, allergic or atopic dermatitis) has about a 25% chance of also having some form of atopic disease. This probability increases to 50% if both parents have atopic disease.


Atopic dermatitis is characterized by: itchy skin (recurring) and distribution across the body of injuries which may vary in configuration according to age and phase.

acute phase

  • red rashes;
  • papules or vesicles;
  • exudation and crust formation.

chronic phase


  • on call early childhoodit is common for dermatitis to affect the entire body surface, with the exception of the “diaper area”.
  • already in second childhoodthe lesions affect essentially the limbs and their flexor surfaces.
  • Finally, in adulthood, eczema lesions are located, basically, on the hands and feet, on the flexor surface of the limbs and in the cervical region. In these regions of the body, the skin tends to be thicker, rougher, drier and darker.

Diagnosis and treatment

The diagnosis of atopic dermatitis is made by examining the characteristics of the lesions and analyzing the family history, namely if there are relatives with other allergies.

There is no cure for atopic dermatitis, but there are measures that can avoid the worsening of the problem, namely:

  • avoid contact with substances that irritate the skin;
  • avoid having dry skin;
  • wear natural fiber clothing such as cotton;
  • wear cotton socks and airy shoes;
  • rinse the clothes well, after washing, to prevent detergent residues;
  • take quick showers with lukewarm water;
  • dry the skin, without rubbing it;
  • avoid excessive use of soaps;
  • apply a neutral moisturizer right after bathing;
  • prefer creams with corticosteroids capable of softening the lesions and controlling itching;
  • apply Vaseline or vegetable oil to the skin to keep it smooth and lubricated;
  • use antihistamines in situations of greater crisis;
  • keep nails short to reduce the risk of scratching and creating a skin infection, which means taking oral antibiotics.

In addition, there is an ultraviolet light treatment associated with oral doses of psoralen that can help adults with this skin condition. Always consult your doctor about the most appropriate measures to take in your specific case.

Other aspects to consider

Although the exact causes of this disease are still unknown, some factors that aggravate it are already known, such as:

  • sweat can aggravate the symptoms of dermatitis;
  • intense heat, as well as sudden changes in temperature, can aggravate this health problem, so the rooms must be well ventilated and the use of very hot bed blankets should be avoided;
  • mites are another element that aggravates dermatitis, so anything that is more likely to attract dust should be avoided;
  • emotional stress can also trigger acute phases of the disease.

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