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Ways to Treat Atopic Dermatitis

Posted October. 24, 2007 08:12,   


Children who are suffering from Atopic dermatitis get tired from scratching, while their parents get tired of having to watch their children in pain. About 10% of children and an increasing number of adults have this skin condition; however, due to a variety of symptoms and treatments, it is hard to cure. During the colder months, the skin irritation gets even more severe.

Atopic dermatitis is an allergic skin reaction to certain particles that enter our body and causes itching and inflammation. It can lead to a reaction to not only atopic dermatitis-causing elements, but also to spicy food or strong winds. Symptoms move between the skin, bronchial organs, nose, and stomach.

Aside from treating affected areas of the skin, food, clothes, bedding, and even stress need to be managed in a comprehensive manner. Lee Sang-ill, a pediatrician at Samsung Seoul Hospital, said that there are three stages to treating this skin disorder.

The first stage does not involve any medicine. Rather, daily habits and environment conditions need to be changed. This needs to be done if the skin turns rough and red when a patient’s cheeks, back, chest, thighs, elbows and calves are exposed to external elements or make contact with clothes.

Food that causes the skin to itch, including eggs, milk, soy milk, and peanut butter should not be consumed. But parents should find out if those foods are indeed the cause. First, see whether eggs (including snacks and bread) cause any itching, and if conditions do not improve, parents can go ahead and serve their children eggs.

Taking baths carefully is also necessary. At one point, doctors told patients to refrain from using alkaline soap and to only use water when bathing their children, but Lee recommends using a bar of soap.

Staphylococci, which causes food poisoning, exacerbates the symptoms of Atopic dermatitis, and soap can kill staphylococci cells. Rinsing thoroughly using running water, drying the body with a towel, and putting on skin moisturizing products are also recommended.

Refrain from wearing clothes that cause static electricity and that brush up against the skin. Carpeting, fabric sofas, and mattresses to be checked as well. New paint odors should be avoided, too. Padded cotton bedding is fine, but blankets should be avoided as they are a breeding ground for ticks. Bedding needs to be changed as often as possible.

Steroids for Morning and Antihistamine Medicines for Evening-

When symptoms do not improve, patients should move to the second stage of treatment. It needs to be used together with first-stage treatments, however.

The second stage of treatment involves putting on ointment. Many people are reluctant to use steroid ointments, thinking they have side effects, but this can prevent allergy symptoms from becoming chronic.

It is safe to use a steroid ointment in the morning. Our bodies secrete steroids in the morning, which makes it safe for patients to use the ointment, while using it in the evening will send a signal to the body that it does not need to secrete steroids the next morning. When this continues, the body will eventually no longer fight back naturally, making the skin condition even worse.

Ointment needs to be used for about every two days even after the skin’s affected areas show improvement. Antihistamine ointment will help prevent the skin from itching. Antihistamines, which are commonly used as cold medicines, can cause drowsiness, so ointment can help one fall asleep if it is used at night. If the scratching stops, the condition will improve.

If the ointments do not work, injections or other therapies need to be considered.

Doctor Lee said, “Only a handful of patients need third-stage treatment. Most treatments that are introduced these days are intended for use in stages one and two.”

Forest Therapy Helps-

Atopic dermatitis is one of the few disorders that has many myths and unfounded theories. Some have been proven but others have not.

Rhinitis and asthma will not necessarily occur in patients suffering from Atopic dermatitis, even though they are related to each other. Nevertheless, the elimination of Atopic dermatitis-causing elements can reduce the risk of developing those disorders.

Having a skin disorder does not mean one has to refrain from eating all kinds of alleged allergy-causing foods. Not feeding eggs or milk to children will improve skin conditions. But too much control over the food will lead to the imbalance of nutrients, which in turn will undermine the growth of children.

Phytoncide, refined from Chamaecyparis obtuse (a tree similar to a pine tree), is used in sprays, soaps, and other products labeled “anti-bacterial.” “Phytoncide from Chamaecyparis obtuse, in particular, are better than other types both in quality and quantity. Forest therapy relieves stress and is conducive to health, so in the same vein, using phytoncide products will promote good health at home,” says Kang Ha-yeong of the National Forestry Science Institute.

In regard to the relationship between soil and Atopic dermatitis, some believe that the skin conditions will improve if the affected children spend a lot of time playing in the soil; however, this urban legend has not yet been proven scientifically.