Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease.
It is characterised by skin dryness, associated with various eczematous patches (such as redness and itching).
These various symptoms occur and develop in successive outbreaks.
In addition, the tiny blisters present in the red patches end up bursting, causing weeping, crusting and desquamation – shedding of the outer layers of the skin.
The constant scratching, which causes multiple small breaks in the skin, can also result in abnormal thickening of the skin, referred to as lichenification.
What’s more, the inherent discomfort of this form of dermatitis (the generic name for all skin diseases) can:
Let us know look at why this condition develops.
Atopic dermatitis primarily stems from a genetic abnormality of the skin barrier.
This abnormality causes excessive dryness of the skin: a defect in the filaggrin gene, breakdown of lipids… One of the key genetic mutations responsible may be situated on chromosome 1q21 (1).
This disease also affects those who are hypersensitive to allergens, such as certain foods, pollen, animal fur, etc.
That’s why it’s called ‘atopic’, atopy being the term for a predisposition to multiple allergies.
Changes in the skin make it easier for these allergens to penetrate the epidermis...
… which stimulates the immune system causing it to over-react and produce excessive amounts of Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which triggers the itching and redness of eczema.
Atopic dermatitis is also stimulated by environmental/lifestyle factors such as:
Babies (from the age of three months) and children are most affected by this skin disease. An estimated 10% to 15 % of babies in France are thought to suffer; this is sometimes referred to as infant eczema.
The good news is that three out of four children will see their eczema diminish before outgrowing it altogether by the time they reach adolescence (2).
It can, however, persist into, or even develop during adolescence or adulthood.
It’s estimated that 10% of adults suffer from the disease (3).
Atopic dermatitis is very common and incidence has been growing steadily in industrialised societies since the 1960s.
This increase is thought to be linked to the factors mentioned above (over-washing, pollution, stress...)
No. It is a hereditary disease but not a contagious one.
The lesions caused by atopic dermatitis are a potential entry point for staphylococcus aureus or the herpes virus.
In some cases, dermatitis may be associated with stunted growth or with eye problems such as retinal detachment.
Any inflammation of the skin needs to be investigated by a dermatologist.
He or she will be able to confirm whether it is indeed atopic dermatitis (or another inflammatory skin disorder) and prescribe the right treatment.
This skin disease has very specific markers.
To determine if a patient has this disorder, the dermatologist needs to:
It’s important too that this disorder is not confused with seborrheic dermatitis or contact eczema.
If a baby or child responds poorly to treatment, and if they have another atopic problem (such as rhinitis or a food allergy …), it may be necessary to carry out allergy testing.
To prevent symptoms, the general advice is to:
To control and relieve skin eruptions during flare-ups, dermatologists and GPs variously recommend the use of:
Essential fatty acids, such as omega 3, are scientifically-recognised for their ability to reduce anti-inflammatory reactions. They actually prevent the body from producing too many of the pro-inflammatory cytokines called interleukin 1 and 6.
A study conducted at the University of Berlin showed that taking omega-3 fatty acids was effective at providing relief to eczema sufferers – and was a totally natural option too (4).
Essential fatty acids can be obtained from:
Beware! Ordinary foods do not contain high enough levels of omega-3 fatty acids. And eating too much fish may be bad for your health (because of its high mercury content, linked to pollution).
Therefore, the most effective way to ensure you’re getting the benefits of a consistent intake of omega-3 is to take a course of supplements, such as Arctic Plankton Oil. This formulation combines the omega-3 fatty acids EPA, DHA and SDA, sourced from zooplankton, which have been shown to be highly effective at relieving inflammation.
Super Omega 3, as its name suggests, is also rich in omega-3 and can thus provide long-lasting relief from chronic inflammation.
Other nutrients can also help restore the health of your skin:
We know that:
an imbalance in gut microbiota can cause problems in other parts of the body such as the skin, by causing uncontrolled inflammation (7).
That’s why certain probiotics - the beneficial bacteria that support healthy gut flora function - have been found to be extremely helpful in strengthening the skin.
The presence of certain probiotic strains promotes the secretion of immunoglobulin A, which is known to strengthen barriers and mucous membranes. One American study showed that taking probiotics produced a significant improvement in eczema-affected skin (8).
There are even probiotic-based products specifically formulated to target skin problems (acne, eczema, redness … and atopic dermatitis). One such product is Derma Relief which combines four different strains of probiotic: Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium lactis.
These are double-coated so that they reach the gut intact and are thus able to deliver all their active principles, in synergy with the vitamins (C and B2) also included in this product, chosen for their ability to maintain and regenerate the skin.
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