Control the itch-scratch cycle

Atopic dermatitis – also known as atopic eczema – is a chronic skin disease that affects the skin on the face and body of babies, children, and adults.

Incidences are on the increase, particularly in the Western world, with a two- to three-fold increase in reported cases than there were 30 years ago. There is no conclusive cause known for atopic dermatitis but there is evidence of links with both asthma and hay fever.

The disease mainly affects children – 10 to 20 per cent of children globally are affected, while two to five per cent of adults have the condition.

In adults the rash tends to affect the neck and décolleté, the inside of elbows, back of knees, hands and feet, as well as the face and scalp. Symptoms and affected areas are slightly different when it comes to children and babies.

People with atopic dermatitis often experience additional problems such as lack of sleep, stress, discrimination, and a lack of self-confidence. As well as maintaining a good skin care routine, there are certain lifestyle changes that can alleviate the symptoms — such as wearing cotton clothing, keeping temperatures low to avoid sweating, and avoiding trigger foods.

There is no known cure for atopic dermatitis but there are a number of ways that sufferers can help to care for their atopic skin and perhaps even prolong the periods between flare-ups. The most important is keeping skin constantly moisturised with emollients.

Emollients must be applied daily, regardless of symptoms. These lotions, face creams, shower oils, and bath additives keep skin supple and moist, and therefore less susceptible to itching and damage. Regular use of emollients helps to reduce itching.

However flare-ups require more intensive care with acute creams being added to the daily moisturising routine. These topical creams often contain hydrocortisone.

Corticosteroids (such as hydrocortisone ) are known to be effective and fast-acting in alleviating itching and reducing inflammation. However it does have some drawbacks. For example, prolonged use can thin skin.

For that reason it is not sustainable in the long term, nor is it ideal for use on babies and children.

Eucerin's AtopiControl acute care cream has skin caring properties that have been clinically proven to significantly improve the skin‘s appearance during flare-up phases. This caring skin solution helps reduce the use of hydrocortisone during flare-ups. AtopiControl acute care cream is not a pharmaceutical product and is not meant to replace one.

Topical acute creams are often needed when flare-ups appear. As these creams may contain hydrocortisone, the long-term usage is not recommended.

Jenny Byron, Ireland’s Eucerin skin care expert, will be available for skin consultations in Matt O'Flaherty Chemist, William Street, on Saturday July 29. If you would like to make an appointment with Jenny Byron phone 091 566670, otherwise just pop in.

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