Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease, associated with intense itching. It can occur in all age groups, but is most frequent during early infancy and childhood (10-20%). It is increasingly prevalent, especially in industrialised countries.
Skin barrier deficiency, the immune system, genetic and environmental factors are the main causes in the pathogenesis. Flare-ups and remissions fluctuate over time, affecting and patients' quality of life. The most common symptoms are dry and itchy skin, but when there is a flare-up, red areas or rashes may develop on the face, inside the elbows and behind the knees. Atopic dermatitis patients often suffer from irritant and allergic reactions, bacterial and viral skin infections, hay fever and asthma.
Currently there is no cure for the disease. Topical preparations, phototherapy and systemic treatment can produce a sympton-free status. Moisturises are crucial in the management of the disease. Avoiding triggering factors (environmental irritants & allergens, emotional stress, sweating, infection) can prevent flare-ups.