Eczema is a broad word used to describe a common type of skin irritant that can result in blistering, oozing, crusting or flaking of the skin and similar to that, atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most prevalent type of eczema, affecting children as well as adults. Genetic as well as environmental factors like irritants, stress, allergies, infections and heat can cause AD and it is more common in individuals with a family history.
Atopic Dermatitis cases are constantly increasing with a prevalence of up to 20% in children and up to 3% in adults worldwide. Individuals with Atopic Eczema and their families struggle tremendously as it significantly affects their daily living.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Sanjeev Gupta, Professor and Head, Deptt of Dermatology at MM Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in Haryana’s Mullana, shared, “Atopic dermatitis is a non-contagious, chronic inflammatory condition that causes itchy skin followed by redness and rashes, makes skin ooze fluid, resulting in thick and hard skin. Those who suffer from AD are also at a higher risk of developing a secondary skin bacterial and viral infection.”
According to Dr Rohit Batra, Consultant Dermatologist and Principal Investigator for Various Clinical Trials on latest treatments in Atopic Dermatitis at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, highlighted, “AD also impacts a person’s inability to sleep through the night due to severe scratching that even bleeds, resulting in poorer performance in studies among children and work in adults. Due to this, individuals suffering from AD isolate themselves from others and stop going out or meeting anyone, which further leads to anxiety and depression. Therefore, it is essential to spread awareness about AD as it impacts not only physically but mentally too.”
He further added, “However, it is crucial that both the patient and the rest of the population comprehend that AD is not a communicable illness. Since AD is not contagious, it cannot spread to others when a sufferer touches them, sneezes or coughs.” Dr Sanjeev Gupta suggested, “When you have skin problems that result in irritation, itching or blisters, it is always advisable to see a certified dermatologist. Most people choose over-the-counter (OTC) medications, which often have negative side effects. The creams may contain steroids, which may provide short-term comfort but can make the problem worse.”
Treatment options of AD vary from prescription medication, topical creams, therapies and lifestyle changes that can be suggested by a dermatologist after understanding the severity of the condition. As per Dr Sanjeev Gupta, “Preventive measures can help in dealing with AD. Lifestyle modifications such as avoiding harsh soaps consisting of chemicals or fragrances, keeping the skin moisturised, avoiding hot showers, pat drying wet skin and applying either coconut oil or any moisturiser immediately after a bath can help. Moreover, if you have a history of allergic rhinitis or asthma, always use a mask.”
Dr Rohit Batra stated that healthy sleep is essential for people with atopic dermatitis but atopic dermatitis-related severe itching might make it difficult to fall asleep. Therefore, Antihistamines sedatives are recommended in such circumstances and treatment is advised as per the patient’s age that includes topical steroid creams, oral medications, etc. After treating the red, scaly areas, additional management is advised, consisting of non-steroid gels such as Tacrolimus, etc. Ultraviolet phototherapy can be regarded as a safe and effective treatment in moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis cases. All of these treatment options, however, must be used with consultation from a certified dermatologist.
There has been a lot of research and newer treatment options are available to give a better steroid free treatment for those suffering from disease. Dr Rohit Batra added that latest treatment molecules like biologics especially Jak Inhibitors are now available in India which are approved to be used in patients suffering from Atopic Dermatitis. People living with AD feel embarrassed and self-conscious which leads to isolation and loneliness so, let’s come together and raise awareness for the people living with AD. Together let’s bring a change to improve the quality of life for those living with AD.