With the cold, stress, your skin itches, gets irritated, is covered with red lesions? Think you have dry skin? Perhaps you suffer more, as one in four children and one in 10 adults, from atopic dermatitis. Origins, manifestations, treatments … Explanations and advice to fight against this chronic disease which can poison the daily life.
Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory dermatological disease characterized by extreme dryness of the skin, severe itching and red lesions.
Does this remind you of the signs of eczema? “It is indeed atopic eczema that is the term used for a long time, confirms Djouhar Megartsi, product manager for the SVR laboratories, but it should be differentiated from another Type of eczema, known as contact, which develops more in adulthood, in case of prolonged contact (especially in the context of work) with allergenic substances.
Atopic dermatitis, above all, is a disease of the child … or even of a very young child. It usually occurs at about 3 months – but may occur in younger infants – before disappearing, often during childhood (in more than 60% of cases before three years). Frequently, it is estimated that it would affect today in Western countries up to one in four children and one in 10 adults.
The causes of dermatitis
In question ? An abnormality, in those who suffer from it, of the skin barrier: the skin no longer plays its role of barrier. “There are a number of explanatory factors,” says Megartsi. “The first is genetic: a parent with atopic terrain has a high probability of seeing his child suffer, and the second is more of an anomaly of immune defenses.”
Atopic dermatitis and ENT allergies are in this strongly related. “Both have the same gateway to the body: skin sensitization, dust mites, pollens … We are constantly exposed to various allergens, and in the face of chronic sensitization our immune defenses are increasingly in demand Which is why, as with ENT allergies, severe atopic dermatitis, if left untreated, can lead to severe allergic reactions, asthma.”
The other surprising fact, when we look at this disease, remains its progression. There would be twice as many people involved – children and adults combined – today than in the 1960s. And the numbers continue to rise. How to explain this upsurge? “On the one hand, the disease is better diagnosed, it plays on the figures. But hygiene theory, which predominates at the moment, suggests that by over-sanitizing our children’s environment, they react to Rather innocuous allergens, as if their immunity was somewhat bored. ” It is troubling that children in less developed countries, who are more exposed to microbes, are much less likely to develop allergic reactions of this type.
“There is also all the aggressions that are made to the skin of the children, from their young age, evokes the specialist. Baths daily, too hot, too prolonged … It is not necessarily a triggering factor but it does not contribute to having a good quality skin barrier. “Especially when there is a genetic predisposition.
Often safe, however, dermatitis can lead to complications if not properly managed. The risks ? That it does not create asthma, as mentioned above, or that the lesions become infected and open the way to impetigo or a staphylococcus.
But if it is handicapped, it is above all by the itching and the redness that it causes during the flares. In children, it can lead to crying, repeated nocturnal awakenings due to inflammation … And bring about real discomfort for the whole family.
In adults, dermatitis concentrates primarily on the face and neck, highly exposed areas. “Adults are often complex and tempted to hide it at best by wearing very covering clothes,” explains Djouhar Megartsi. “Some people are so” bad about themselves “that they prefer to hide, even if they want to cut themselves off from their social life. “The problem is that stress is an aggravating factor,” she adds, “and that the onset of a surge generates a lot of stress for them.” A real vicious circle.
Local emergency solutions
The solution ? Consult a specialist who will urgently prescribe a local treatment to stop the inflammation. “Many parents are reluctant to use these treatments because they are dermo-corticoids, which they are afraid of, but they are necessary to calm the inflammation. Side effects are extremely rare. ”
Dermatologists generally offer a daily application, preferably in the evening, until improvement. From there, they advise to space the applications and gradually replace them with emollients, specific creams that will calm the itching and reconstitute the skin barrier.c
An indispensable background treatment
The use of emollients is also essential for atopic skins: they are the ones which, applied daily throughout the year, will make it possible to limit as much as possible the occurrence of relapses. Even though some good habits should be adopted. “Avoid prolonged bathing and hot water in general, so recommend the specialist. Not to mention the swimming pools, to be avoided. Be sure to use soap-free, perfume-free products at physiological pH (5.5). Finally, remember to cut the children’s nails very regularly to prevent them from injuring themselves by scratching themselves. And in general, choose easy-to-wear underwear and cotton clothes that minimize friction. ”
And in case of dry skin?
If you have a “classic” dry skin, winter can also aggravate the sensations of tightness. But the treatment is slightly different. “It is not enough to bring a body fat to a dry skin, warns Djouhar Megartsi. It is absolutely necessary to hydrate the skin to desquamate. But also desquaming to hydrate. This involves choosing specific, very moisturizing products, such as those with urea which provide an active ingredient that is lacking in the skin. In reality, there is no miracle cure: only the application of a cream to the long course proves effective. “