Atopic Dermatitis: Definition
When exposed to dust mites, foods, animal hair or saliva, atopic individuals develop excessive levels of specific antibodies. This overproduction has a chronic impact on the skin. Some atopic individuals do not experience skin problems (eczema or hives), but suffer asthma attacks or rhino-conjunctivitis.
Atopic dermatitis: skin condition
Atopic dermatitis is an infectious skin disease. It is a type of dermatosis (a term that refers to all infections of the skin and mucous membranes). This inflammatory condition is more commonly known as atopic eczema. The patches of dry skin can cause itching.
Atopic eczema is chronic but not contagious
Atopic dermatitis is described as a non-contagious disease. It is a chronic condition experienced by young children and adults alike. It is characterized by itchy outbreaks of eczema. In general, there is no cure for atopic dermatitis. 20% of infants affected by this condition continue to suffer from it into adulthood, with the skin outbreaks becoming less often with age but never going away entirely.
The definition of “atopic”
Atopia is characterized by a patient’s inherited predisposition to react to allergens. Atopic illnesses include atopic dermatitis (eczema), asthma, hives and rhino-conjunctivitis (hay fever)... Atopic individuals or atopic skin are hypersensitive to allergens.
According to Larousse dictionary, dermatitis is defined as “any inflammation of the skin, of any origin”.
Atopic eczema: increasing prevalence
A rise in the number of people affected by atopic dermatitis is being observed in European countries. There are many possible explanations for this, specifically environmental ones:
• excessive personal hygiene, which triggers a decrease in natural infectious stimuli
• increased use of detergents
• urban lifestyle: indoor air quality
• increased genetic predisposition: the likelihood of two atopic parents having a child who also suffers from the condition is between 75% and 80%
• childbirth via Caesarian section has also increased.