Skin health: Tips to control Atopic Dermatitis flare ups
Skin barrier dysfunction in Atopic Dermatitis patients frequently results in dry, itchy and scaly skin. Here are tips by skin experts on how to control Atopic Dermatitis flare ups
Studies show that 25% of children and around 2% to 3% of adults may suffer from Atopic Dermatitis and it is also known that 10% to 15% of Indians have some sort of atopy or an AD manifestation since the first year of life. Skin barrier dysfunction in Atopic Dermatitis patients frequently results in dry, itchy, and scaly skin.
Similar to how a nice layer of paint protects your home from the summer sun and the winter snow, healthy skin serves as a barrier to protect you however, that barrier may not function well if you have Atopic Dermatitis. Your skin may become dried out and more sensitive to the effects of heat, cold, humidity, wind and other factors because it is unable to retain moisture.
Flare-ups tend to be more common in the winter as skin is unable to maintain moisture on its own during that time or switching between hot and cold surroundings, donning too many layers of clothes, taking hot showers or covering up excessively can all trigger flare-ups. The effects of harsh, windy outdoor weather followed by dry, hot interior surroundings can be disastrous for the skin.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Rashmi Sarkar, MD, FAMS, IFAAD, Director Professor of Department of Dermatology at LHMC and associated KSCH and SSK Hospital, shared, “Infections like colds cause atopic dermatitis to flare up in a non-specific way as they disrupt the immune system. There are a few changes in our lifestyle that can help in avoiding flare-ups but if you are suffering from symptoms of AD, you will need to visit a qualified dermatologist.”
She highlighted, “Everybody has different triggers for flare-ups, and there could be a delay between the trigger and the symptoms. Common triggers include perspiration, textiles (wool, polyester), pet dander, extremes of temperature, and harsh soaps which the dermatologist can help identify.”
Dr Rashmi Sarkar advised, “Keep your skin moisturised, especially in the winter when the air can be extremely dry. When you sleep, use a humidifier to keep the air in your bedroom moist. After taking a shower or bath, apply body lotion. To relieve itching moisten your skin, soak in a warm bath with small amounts of bath oil. Consult your dermatologist to determine what is causing your skin irritation. They can examine how your skin reacts to various products.”
She recommended, “Keep track of anything you use that causes a flare when you touch it. Choose soaps, cleaners and laundry detergents that do not contain any perfumes or dyes. These are typical eczema triggers. Choose soft clothing, well worn before that is gentle on your skin. If wool or other fabrics bother you, avoid wearing them. Find wool-free clothing to keep you warm this winter or take advice from your dermatologist. Wear loose clothing that does not irritate your skin.”
Dr Sushil Tahiliani, MD, Consultant Dermatology at Mumbai's Hinduja Hospital, suggested, “If you are suffering from symptoms of AD, you will need to visit a dermatologist. AD flare-ups can be treated or prevented with a variety of medications and home therapies. However, using OTC products to reduce skin redness or patch irritation may not be sufficient to provide relief.”
He added, “You should refrain from taking long, hot showers to reduce AD flare-ups. Brief warm water baths are recommended to prevent over-drying of skin. Apply moisturiser as soon as you exit the bath to seal in moisture while your skin is still damp. Moisturise at least twice or three times per day. The control of itching can be improved with regular application of moisturisers. It supports the skin's natural barrier function being restored.”