Atopic dermatitis is a chronic disease that targets the skin. It is most commonly known as eczema or atopic eczema. “Dermatitis” literally means inflammation of the skin. Atopic dermatitis is often found in patients with an “atopic tendency.” They simply mean that they are at higher risk of developing atopic diseases such as atopic dermatitis, hay fever, and asthma because they have inherited the disease from their parents or other family members.
It is not contagious, meaning the disease cannot spread from one person to another. It is unknown how the disease spreads, but doctors are currently looking at hereditary and environmental causes. It is also a malfunction of the body’s immune system in the absence of a protein called a cytokine and high amounts of other cytokines that will cause inflammation of the skin.
Atopic dermatitis causes a person’s skin to become unbearably itchy. Scratching will cause swelling (inflammation), cracking and crusting. The most common symptoms are dry and itchy skin, causing a rash on the face, hands, feet, and other joints. These symptoms occur mostly in children and improve or disappear as their condition grows. However, sometimes they do not improve or their condition flares up. Sometimes it can turn into asthma or hay fever.
The correct diagnosis of this is not so easy. The doctor will likely ask if a parent or other family member has ever had the disease (even hay fever and asthma). They will also ask if the patient has been exposed to possible irritants such as smoke, dust, or even soap and detergent. However, there is no available test that can truly know if someone is affected by it. The doctor will have to see the patient several times to monitor and rule out other diseases.
Treatment can be done within months after diagnosis or in cases where the disease starts in childhood or even years. Treatment involves reducing the person’s exposure to irritants. These include avoiding certain places in general, such as the beach or smoky areas.
Another possible treatment is the regular application of moisturizer to the skin and the possible use of topical steroids to relieve itching caused by the disease. These should be done very carefully, as they can cause a further allergic reaction to the patient’s skin.
Other doctors have also found flaxseed oil to be important in curing atopic dermatitis.
Flaxseed oil is found in a fine plant called the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum), which has a history of healing wonders. Flaxseed oil is obtained by pressing flax seeds to produce therapeutic oil rich in EFA (essential fatty acids). EFA is valuable because the body needs them to function but cannot produce them on its own. An EFA found in flaxseed oil is an omega-3 fatty acid that helps reduce the risk of heart disease and other diseases.
Flaxseed oil also has EFA, which gives it its skin-healing power. The red and itchy patches of skin that result from this often react to the EFA from flaxseed oil. This EFA has anti-inflammatory and skin-soothing effects that will help a patient recover from atopic dermatitis or at least provide relief from itching.