Dermatology refers to so many conditions and issues, but some of our most common seen are atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. These chronic skin conditions do occur in adults but most cases are in children and adolescents. As if teenage years weren’t hard enough?! The good side is these conditions flew under the radar for a long time, but now people are talking about these diseases…notice the multitude of commercials and advertisements for such conditions.
For those of us who do not suffer from a chronic skin condition it is hard to understand the pain these patients suffer. Flare ups come and go with no rhyme or reason and the unsightly appearance takes a mental toll on the patient, especially in the younger cases.
Atopic dermatitis — the most common form of eczema — is an inflammatory skin condition characterized by chronic itchy rashes, inflammation, frequent skin infections and sleep interruptions. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of children in Western nations will develop atopic dermatitis in the first few years of life.
Certain substances may trigger an eczema breakout, so it’s important to identify and avoid them. Common irritants include household cleansers, detergents, soaps, chlorine, and wool. Stress can also cause eczema to appear. To confirm whether you have eczema, your doctor may ask about your family history of allergies and want you to have an allergy or blood test.
Studies have established a link between atopic dermatitis and several other medical conditions that can occur in conjunction with this skin condition. This new research is aimed at better understanding this connection in children. Research has shown that there is an increased incidence of asthma, hay fever and food allergies in patients with atopic dermatitis.
There are also higher rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children with atopic dermatitis — with more severe cases of this skin condition associated with a higher chance of developing ADHD. While the reason for this association is unknown, researchers are questioning whether ADHD may be caused by the sleep disturbances common in children with atopic dermatitis.
Psoriasis is another chronic skin condition marked by thick, red, itchy scaly patches, affecting an estimated 7.5 million Americans. They often are located on the outside of the elbows and knees, but psoriasis commonly affects the scalp and nails, too. There is strong data showing psoriasis is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and higher rates of obesity in adults.
Many things can trigger psoriasis, including stress, cold weather, skin damage, and certain medications. Unlike atopic dermatitis, psoriasis doesn’t usually appear before age 10. It’s more commonly found in adults or adolescents.
Psoriasis can mimic other skin diseases. Doctors diagnose it by closely examining your skin, nails, and scalp. Your doctor may also perform a skin biopsy. This involves removing a small skin sample and viewing it under a microscope.
With the greater understanding of these diseases comes more advanced research and treatment options for all those suffering, young and old. If you, or your child, is having any skin issues that seem abnormal it is very important to have them visit a dermatologist to rule out any chronic issues. The earlier the treatment the better for long term results. Treatments vary from case to case but can involve topical medications, oral medications, changing of household items such as detergents and soaps, as well as over the counter lotions and treatments in mild cases.