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  • 5 Things You can Do to Manage Skin Asthma

    Beat this skin problem by reading up on the causes and treatment available.
    by Gretchen Agdamag, MD .
5 Things You can Do to Manage Skin Asthma
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • Margaret, 31, shared that her daughter, Jaime, had just been diagnosed by her new pedia- derma with skin asthma at 4 years old.  Jaime was around 8 months when the lesions started to appear.  Some medications they previously applied made the rashes go away, but only for a while and sometimes “she did not respond at all.”   

    Margaret almost gave up, she recalled, “because you can’t seem to help your child, especially when the rashes become so itchy and quite painful and she starts crying.”

    Anna, 34, explains that her son Jerome, 7, was diagnosed with skin asthma, too.  She would find him waking up in the middle of the night scratching uncomfortably, and would have lesions on his elbows, knees and ears. Asthma runs in her family, too.

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    What is skin asthma?

    Dr. Kristine Legaspi, a dermatologist from the University of Santo Tomas Hospital, explains that atopic dermatitis is the medical term for the disease more popularly known as skin asthma.

    Atopic means a predisposition to be overly sensitive to allergens (like in asthma) and dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin. Skin asthma typically presents in infancy/childhood and may persist in adult life, with hyper-reactivity of the person’s immune system resulting to  exacerbations or flares. If exposed to trigger factors, such as irritants (e.g. soaps, detergents), skin infections and contact or inhalant allergens, the condition may worsen and require medication.

    Although atopic dermatitis can affect any part of the body, it usually involves the face and the limbs.  Symptoms may vary, but more often present as red, flaky and itchy rashes which can later develop into scaly, crusty or leathery patches.


    How is it treated?

    “The primary goal should be to limit the flare and avoid the triggers of the attack.” says Dr. Legaspi.  Medications often used to control the flares are mostly immunosuppressives which are associated with possible harmful effects, hence prolonged use especially in children is not recommended.

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    How to avoid skin asthma triggers

    1. Patients should ideally be in a well humidified enviroment, avoiding extremes of temperature

    2. Limit contact with pets, especially the furry ones, (pet fishes in aquariums are best)

    3. Avoid fragrances that can trigger allergic reactions ( cologne, fabric softener on clothes)

    4. Limit bathing to 20 min at most, as prolonged exposure to water will cause dryness5. Avoid having carpets, mats or anything that accumulates dust 

    Since the skin of ”atopics” are generally dry with impaired epidermal barrier, skin hydration is of primary importance. There are lots of moisturizers to choose from commercially but consult a dermatologist to guide which one is best for the patient. In most cases, cream formulations are best tolerated by kids. For flares, never self-medicate as this may further aggravate the existing problem. Always seek derma consult for proper treatment.

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