Neurodermatitis of the body: atopic eczema
Neurodermatitis is a skin disease that affects 2-5% of adults and 10-20% of children worldwide. It is a chronic condition that manifests itself in dry, scaly, reddened skin with itching, which shows a phased progression. Even if no cure is known yet, regular intensive skin care can help to stabilize the skin condition and protect the skin. You can find out more about neurodermatitis especially in the face here.
What is neurodermatitis?
Neurodermatitis – also known as atopic eczema – is a chronic skin change that can occur on the face or body of babies, children and adults.
Case numbers are increasing worldwide, with a two to three times higher number of documented cases than 30 years ago. The predisposition for neurodermatitis is inherited: If both parents suffer or have suffered from neurodermatitis, the child has a 60-80% risk of also developing neurodermatitis.
Especially children are affected by this skin change – 10-20 % of all children worldwide are affected, for adults it is only 2-5%.
In adults, the skin manifestations mainly spread to the neck and neckline, the inside of the elbows and knees, hands and feet, and the face and scalp. In babies and children, skin symptoms and affected skin areas differ.
People with neurodermatitis often suffer from additional problems such as sleep disorders, stress, discrimination and lack of self-confidence. In addition to good skin care, some lifestyle changes can alleviate skin symptoms, e.g. avoiding known trigger factors (woollen clothing, sweating and allergenic foods).
Causes & Triggers
Potential causes and triggers of neurodermatitis
The predisposition for neurodermatitis is inherited: If both parents suffer or have suffered from neurodermatitis, the child has a 60-80% risk of also developing neurodermatitis. Besides genetics, environmental factors play an important role as trigger factors for neurodermatitis. As there is no cure, avoiding these triggers and daily intensive skin care is very important, this combination can help to prolong the relapse-free phases. In acute phases, a combination of targeted skin care and medical treatment can provide rapid relief and regression of skin symptoms.
- Genetic connections. If both parents have or have had neurodermatitis, there is a 60-80% chance that the child will inherit the skin change.
- Gender. Women have a slightly higher susceptibility to neurodermatitis than men.
- Age of the mother at the birth of the child. The older the mother is, the higher the probability that the child will develop neurodermatitis.
Further influencing factors
There are a number of trigger factors that can aggravate the skin symptoms, these are very individual for each person affected.
- Certain foodstuffs and beverages (in particular dairy products, nuts, shellfish and alcohol)
- Textiles (especially wool and nylon)
- Allergens (house dust mites, pollen, animal hair)
- Detergents and cleaning agents
- Stress, sleep disorders
- Heat, sweat, dry air
- Cigarette smoke
Living with the skin symptoms of neurodermatitis on the body
So far, no cure for neurodermatitis is known, but there are various ways in which those affected can contribute to the care of their atopic skin and perhaps even extend the intervals between relapses.
Most important is the regular skin care with moisturizing and refatting ingredients.
Refatting and moisturizing skin care must be applied daily, regardless of the skin symptoms. These lotions, face creams, shower oils and bath additives keep the skin supple and moisturized, making it less susceptible to irritation and pollutants and reducing itching.
Among the most important ingredients in skin care for neurodermatitis:
- Omega-6 fatty acids from evening primrose seed oil and grape seed oil: They regenerate the skin’s natural protective barrier and strengthen the skin.
- Licochalcone A (an extract from the liquorice root): It is a natural ingredient that soothes the skin and reduces redness.
Treatments with medicines
Acute episodes often require the use of a topical medication in addition to daily skin care.
Glucocorticoids (like hydrocortisone) are effective and fast in relieving itching and reducing inflammation.
However, hydrocortisone is only recommended for short-term use.
The AtopiControl Acute Care Cream from Eucerin provides intensive care for skin symptoms. Scientific studies confirm that the skin care properties of AtopiControl Acute Care Cream from Eucerin significantly improve skin symptoms in acute phases.
Daily skin care for neurodermatitis of the body
Although the trigger factors vary from person to person, there are some lifestyle changes that have been shown to be effective in those affected:
- Keep room temperature and humidity low to avoid sweating.
- Clothing that is soft on the skin. Silk and cotton is comfortable and can be worn in several layers in winter. Scratchy materials such as wool and non-breathing fabrics such as nylon should be avoided.
- Keep skin care products in the refrigerator, as chilled creams help to relieve itching.
- Keep a diary to note down triggers for relapses.
- Holidays in cool to moderate climate – not too hot or too cold.
- Always wash new clothing before wearing it for the first time to remove excess dye and other irritants.
- Wear cotton gloves at night to prevent scratching in your sleep.
- Moist compresses can help relieve itching and satisfy the urge to scratch (ask your dermatologist for more information).
- Shower rather than bath, but never too hot (< 32°) and not too often or too long.
- Do not bathe for more than 5-10 minutes.
Please consult a dermatologist if you are uncertain about your skin symptoms.