Reaching out to the world

GETTING UNDER THE SKIN

Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disorder. It often affects the face, trunk, back of the knee and the front of the elbow. It affects millions of people worldwide — most notably children. The saving grace is that a majority of children get over the disorder, over time. However, the eczematous ‘mayhem’ may continue to exist in 2-3 per cent of children in their adult life.

There are various forms of eczema — contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, photodermatitis (caused by sun allergy), stasis dermatitis (caused by poor circulation) and neurodermatitis (caused by stress), among others. Contact dermatitis occurs when substances, or chemicals, such as detergents, certain shampoos, over-the-counter (OTC) cosmetics, or strong hair dyes, including jewellery, affect the skin, triggering the allergic reaction. The atopic form relates to a genetic tendency for eczema. It occurs primarily in individuals who have a strong family history of allergy. It can also sometimes co-exist with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma.

CAUSES

Research suggests that the condition may be a consequence of several factors working together, including prolonged emotional stress. However, the fact remains that the disorder is not contagious. It does not spread from one person to another, as may be the popular opinion.

SYMPTOMS

The most frequent are itchiness of the skin and parched appearance, sometimes with scaly spots. These may crack, become red or inflamed, leading to infection. In addition, the skin may break on the surface, thanks to bacterial assault. This is highlighted by the presence of a colourless or ‘sticky’ fluid — along with crusts and scabs. It is called ‘wet’ or ‘weeping’ eczema.

SELF-HELP

Here are a few things you need to keep in mind if you are suffering from atopic dermatitis:

  • Opt for breathable cotton fabrics. Avoid clothes and bed-covers made of synthetics, wool, silk, or any other material; they may irritate your skin.
  • Avoid hot water baths; use lukewarm water instead. Don’t rub with towel; pat dry after bath
  • Keep finger nails short — this helps to prevent skin damage when you scratch
  • Wipe sweat away, after work-out, or playing sport, with a damp cloth; shower, and pat dry, after you ‘cool down’
  • Eat a balanced diet. Include berries, which are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C; carrots for their high beta-carotene (which helps the body produce skin-centric vitamin A); and, avocados for their vitamin E and B-complex to hydrate the skin
  • Incorporate relaxation techniques, such as yoga, or meditation — because, eczema can get worse with stress, or anxiety
  • Follow-up with your professional homeopathic doctor on a regular basis.

Dr Bindu Sharma, Director- Medical Services Dr Batra’s Healthcare