What is it?
It is a skin condition that has allergic features. It is hereditary, non-contagious, and characterized by chronic inflammation of the skin. The skin appears red, flaky, with pinpoint raised spots, can sometimes be “weepy,” watery, or wet, and can be very itchy. In worst cases, scaling and thickening of the skin is common.
What causes it?
Atopic dermatitis, a.k.a. skin asthma, is caused by reduced humidity and excessive sweating, common during summer—when the condition can become even worse. Primarily genetic, skin asthma is caused by abnormal immune responses. Atopy (from the Greek word for “out of place”) occurs when the immune system incorrectly recognizes and attacks substances that should be harmless. Dr. Malayang-Kimwell, medicine resident at East Avenue Medical Center differentiates that unlike skin allergies, which usually occur when exposed to particular allergens, skin asthma can occur with mild or even no exposure to irritants.
How can it be prevented?
Immunotherapy or allergy shots that can build the body’s tolerance to common allergens and irritants may help. But most importantly, parents should spot skin asthma skin’s natural defense against overexposure to early on to prevent it from worsening. This means taking the following cautionary measures:
- Staying clear of possible allergens and irritants.
- Avoiding overheating and dryness in the home. Keep the child in a cool environment.
- Fighting skin dryness by taking frequent baths with mild soaps and applying non-irritating moisturizers.
How is it treated?
- Cool compress and oral anti-itch medicines can help relieve symptoms.
- Never scratch; it makes the lesions worse and may lead to a secondary infection.
- Corticosteroids can treat inflamed skin areas, but use these minimally and only with prescription.
- The skin can get used to these medicines, requiring a higher dosage when the condition reoccurs
Check out other skin health problems prevalent in the summer:
- Prickly Heat
- Mijaru Malayang-Kimwell, M.D., medicine resident, East Avenue Medical Center
- Department of Health’s Health Advisories, doh.gov.ph
- “Recent intelligence on the evil triad of allergy, asthma, and eczema,” AboutKidshealth.ca
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