The best tips to care for atopic skin

Atopic dermatitis affects 20% of the population, and although it is more common in babies and children, there are more and more adults who can suffer from it, even if they did not develop it in childhood. Its origin is mainly genetic, but there are other environmental, and immunological factors … that play a fundamental role.

The cold and dry environment, typical of autumn and winter due to low temperatures, and the absence of rain and heating, worsens the symptoms of this skin pathology that should not be confused with sensitive skin.

How is sensitive skin different from atopic skin?

Sensitive skin reacts disproportionately to external aggressions (cold or heat) or to contact with some cosmetics. It is a skin whose hydrolipidic barrier does not ‘work ‘ properly and requires specific products so that it is not altered and triggers the characteristic symptoms of this type of skin: itching, burning, stinging, and redness.

On the other hand, atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory pathology of the skin that occurs with acute flare-ups of eczema and chronic phases of dryness; It is part of the set of manifestations of atopy, which can affect the skin, the eyes, the lungs or the upper respiratory tract, as well as the skin. In addition to the extreme dryness of the skin, which can even crack, atopic dermatitis has other symptoms such as itching and eczema.

In general, sensitive skin tends to affect women more, while atopic skin is more common in children and babies. In 60-80% of cases, it tends to disappear spontaneously after the age of 5, although an increasing prevalence is being seen in adolescence and adulthood, where it already reaches between 7-10%, depending on the country.

What factors trigger atopic dermatitis?

Genetic predisposition is the main cause of the development of this disease. If the mother or the father is atopic, the child has a 50% chance, which increases to 80% when there are both parents. But there are others to take into account, according to the expert. The immune system has an important role since there are alterations that lead to exacerbated itching and inflammation. On the other hand, its origin is also environmental, since it is a pathology that has more incidence in industrialized countries. Disruption of the skin barrier is one of the key points, since it favors dehydration and the entry of irritating agents, promoting inflammation of the skin.

In addition to pollution, other external factors that worsen the symptoms of atopic skin such as stress, excessively cold and dry climates, sudden temperature changes, inadequate diets, allergens (mites, fungi …), the use of synthetic or woollen clothing, certain cosmetics, etc.

How to care for atopic skin?

When atopic skin suffers an outbreak, it must be the doctor who prescribes the treatment to control it. Out of the outbreak, hygiene and hydration are the most important care. Hygiene respects the skin as much as possible, which is easily irritated by itself. The water is very irritating, and the hotter, the worse. Avoid bathing and opt for short showers with warm water. You have to use mild cleaning products, with moisturising and soothing active ingredients.

Keeping the skin properly hydrated is essential. Atopic skin needs more hydration than healthy or normal skin. You have to use moisturising creams (they prevent the skin from losing water) and moisturisers at least 3 times a day and especially in areas where the skin is worse.

When choosing moisturising creams to care for atopic skin, experts recommend that they contain moisturising, softening and anti-irritant active ingredients such as shea butter, glycerin or niacinamide, as well as plant extracts. The expert also recommends the use of thermal water. It has a calming, soothing, decongesting effect, immediately. It can be used as an intermediate step between hygiene and hydration, and it can also always be carried by hand and used when the skin starts to become irritated, itchy or red.

Other practical tips to improve atopic skin

  • Dry the skin with blows, always avoiding rubbing.
  • Use humidifiers to avoid very dry environments, for example, in summer or winter when the heating is turned on.
  • Choose natural fabrics, preferably cotton, both for clothing, bedding or towels.
  • Wash clothes with mild, perfume-free detergents and avoid additives (normally present in fabric softeners).
  • Do not overcoat.
  • Extreme cleanliness, to avoid mites, and all kinds of elements that can accumulate dust (stuffed toys, carpets…).
  • Avoid scratching that, although it alleviates at the moment, can cause injuries.
  • Avoid stress .
  • Remove sweat as soon as possible, because it can increase itching and irritation.
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