Atopic dermatitis, also called atopic eczema or infantile eczema, affects people with dry and rough skin and may be caused by a variety of allergens.
Atopic dermatitis often starts in early childhood, around three months of age, and tends to run in atopic families.
Possible causes of atopic dermatitis include:
- Food allergy, which plays an important role in children under one year but not in adults
- Cow’s milk, hen’s eggs and peanuts are the foods most likely to exacerbate infantile eczema
- House dust mites tend to aggravate eczema in older children and adults
- Pet dander exposure, such as to cats, dogs and other furry animals, may play a role
- Certain bacteria may cause sudden, severe outbreaks of eczema
Tips to manage atopic dermatitis
If you have atopic eczema you may find the following useful:
- Take lukewarm baths with emollients, but don’t stay in the water too long
- Pat the skin dry with a towel – never rub eczematous skin dry
- Avoid soap, detergents and shampoo – use aqueous cream instead of soap
- Wear cotton fabrics next to your skin – avoid wool and polyester
- Wear loose rather than tight-fitting clothes
- Clip your fingernails and don’t scratch or rub your skin
- Avoid sports that make you sweat a lot
And, try to stay calm and relaxed because stress can make eczema worse.