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What Makes Atopic Dermatitis Worse?

Many people ask, "What makes atopic dermatitis worse?" Several factors and conditions can make symptoms worse. These can be broken down into two main categories: irritants (such as rough clothing or perfumed soaps) and allergens (like dust or pet dander). In addition, emotional factors, skin infections, temperature, and climate can make atopic dermatitis worse.

What Makes Atopic Dermatitis Worse? -- An Introduction

Many factors or conditions can make symptoms of atopic dermatitis worse by further triggering the already-overactive immune system, aggravating the itch-scratch cycle, and increasing damage to the skin. These factors can be broken down into two main categories:
  • Irritants
  • Allergens.

What Makes Atopic Dermatitis Worse? -- Irritants

Irritants are substances that directly affect the skin causing it to become red and itchy or to burn.
Irritants can be caused by:
  • Frequent wetting and drying of the skin
  • Wool or synthetic fibers
  • Rough or poorly fitting clothing
  • Soaps and detergents
  • Perfumes and cosmetics
  • Exposure to certain substances, such as solvents, dust, or sand
  • Cigarette smoke.
However, the effects of irritants vary from person to person.

What Makes Atopic Dermatitis Worse? -- Allergens

Allergens are substances from foods, plants, animals, or the air that inflame the skin by triggering an overreaction in the immune system. Inflammation can occur even when the person is exposed to small amounts of the substance for a limited time.
Although researchers know that allergens in the air can make symptoms of atopic dermatitis worse, atopic dermatitis research scientists are not certain whether inhaling these allergens or their actual penetration of the skin causes the problem. Allergens in the air include:
  • Dust mites
  • Pollens
  • Molds
  • Dander from animal hair or skin.
When people with atopic dermatitis come into contact with an irritant or allergen that they are sensitive to, inflammation-producing cells become active. These cells release chemicals that cause itching and redness. Further damage to the skin occurs when people respond to the itching and redness by scratching and rubbing the skin.
A number of studies have shown that foods may trigger or exacerbate atopic dermatitis. Food allergies can cause:
  • Skin inflammation (generally an itchy, red rash)
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea)
  • Upper respiratory tract symptoms (congestion, sneezing, and wheezing).
The most common food allergens are:
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish.
A recent analysis indicated that breastfeeding an infant for at least 4 months might protect the child from developing allergies. However, some studies suggest that mothers with a family history of atopic diseases should avoid eating common allergenic foods during late pregnancy and throughout breastfeeding.

Atopic Dermatitis Information

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