Atopic Dermatitis: How to Ease the Itch

Atopic dermatitis, the most common form of the skin ailment known as eczema, afflicts many of us with its vicious cycle of itching, scratching, rash, and blistering.

If you watched HBO’s recent crime series The Night Of, you saw an extreme portrait of the atopic dermatitis sufferer in John Turturro’s lawyer character, John Stone. Stone’s weekly battles to deal with his incessantly itching feet and legs, along with his vain efforts to seek a cure through all manner of bizarre treatments, provided a kind of comic relief from the series’ dark subject matter. But viewers who share the character’s desperation weren’t laughing.

Fortunately, the real-life outlook for many atopic dermatitis patients is much clearer. As a new video from the American Academy of Dermatology shows, doctors are benefiting from ongoing research that offers patients faster diagnoses and a much wider range of treatment options — including empowering patients to manage their condition through lifestyle changes.

The key is the growing understanding of the link between atopic dermatitis and other immunological disturbances such as allergies. In fact, atopic dermatitis is often called “skin asthma,” because it reflects the same immunological overrreacton to environmental and emotional stimuli as the respiratory triggers of asthma. Like asthma and allergies, atopic dermatitis frequently has a genetic connection, with the susceptibility running in families.

Diagnosis involves ruling out other causes of the skin symptoms and testing thoroughly for allergies and other triggers. These vary from patient to patient, and even for the same patient over a lifetime. Treatment involves managing the immune response through a combination of medical treatments  (ranging from topical emollients to light therapy to injectable biologic treatments) and lifestyle changes (avoidance of triggers, stress management, healthy nutritional and activity choices) tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Atopic dermatitis cannot be completely cured, though it can be managed, and in many cases brought into remission.

If you suspect you are dealing with atopic dermatitis or are troubled by recurring bouts of skin itching, redness, inflammation, and infection from scratching (or know someone who is), watch the American Academy of Dermatology video below. Then contact us for an appointment. Our Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena physicians and physician assistants are ready to be your partner in an itch-free, clearer skin future!