Do you know what atopic dermatitis is? Find out here!

6 minutes to read

The skin is our body’s largest organ, but one of the most underrated. On a daily basis, it works as a great defense for our organs and suffers harmful actions from mechanical trauma (the famous blows), cuts, sunlight and much more.

Therefore, it is not surprising that many diseases and health problems affect this region. One of them is atopic dermatitis, which compromises the quality of life of people with this condition.

Do you know what atopic dermatitis is? Not yet? Keep reading and stay on top of the main information about this very important skin condition.

What is atopic dermatitis?

To understand what atopic dermatitis is, let’s take the name of this problem as a starting point. Derma is a prefix related to the skin, while “itis” is a suffix associated with the presence of inflammation.

So we have an inflammation in the skin. This is a chronic disease that often does not have a very well defined trigger. It is characterized by the presence of lesions that form crusts and itch a lot, bothering the affected patient a lot.

How does it manifest?

Atopic dermatitis manifests itself as the presence of itchy lesions that usually affect areas such as the hands, arms and back of the legs, in the region of the knee joint. Despite this, it can affect the entire body without restrictions.

An interesting characteristic is that patients with atopic dermatitis often also have respiratory problems, especially rhinitis (inflammation of the inner layer of the nose) and asthma (which affects the pulmonary bronchi).

What are the possible causes of atopic dermatitis?

The causes of this problem are not well known. Research is still needed to define its origin, but hypotheses raised bring points such as the presence of naturally more sensitive skin associated with the weakening of the immune system.

What are the symptoms?

Now, it’s time for you to check out the main symptoms of atopic dermatitis. Let’s go!

skin swelling

One of the most common symptoms of atopic dermatitis is swelling of the skin caused by inflammation. It can be generalized or affect only the regions of the lesions.


Another very characteristic point of inflammation is redness. This is caused by cells and blood migrating to the affected area in an attempt to resolve the problem.

Change in skin temperature

The temperature of an inflamed area also tends to get higher. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find patients with atopic dermatitis who have areas of the skin that feel warmer than the rest.

skin peeling

Due to the itchiness, you may also experience skin peeling. In addition, this symptom can arise as an attempt to regenerate the skin or also due to dryness.


The occurrence of secretions and sometimes bleeding is a frequent problem for those who suffer from the lesions generated by atopic dermatitis.

Change in skin tone

It is possible that you will notice that the color of certain spots on your skin – the same ones that are affected by the lesions – has changed. They can get lighter or darker, but any change in shade should be a warning sign and be noticed by a doctor.

Change in skin texture

Injuries can also cause the texture of the skin to change, making it rough or leathery, i.e. smooth and dry. Changes of this nature should be evaluated as soon as possible by a dermatologist.

constant itching

Finally, we have one of the most characteristic symptoms of atopic dermatitis: itching. Also called pruritus, it can happen in already established lesions or even in “intact” skin, preceding the appearance of the problem. This is another warning sign for you to seek the opinion of a specialist doctor, such as a dermatologist.

Are there risk factors for its development?

Allergic processes are one of the main risk factors, causing the patient’s immune system to be constantly weakened. Thus, there is a propensity for the development of this problem. Issues such as exposure to chemicals and the presence of naturally drier skin can also be included in this context.

How is atopic dermatitis diagnosed?

Despite being a relatively common problem, there is no specific test for atopic dermatitis. Therefore, you need to be evaluated by a good dermatologist, who will analyze your symptoms and ask for tests to exclude other possible causes for the manifestations of these signs.

Some tests that may be requested are skin scrapings, cytology and allergy tests. If they are negative, the diagnosis of atopic dermatitis is closed.

What are the possible treatments?

The treatment for atopic dermatitis is medication. It is necessary that the patient makes use of oral remedies (such as antiallergic pills) and topics, that is, those that are applied to the skin.

The combination between the use of ointments and lotions associated with oral medications is usually very efficient for controlling itching and wound healing. To prevent further occurrences, the patient must invest in care such as:

  • Hydrate the skin;
  • Avoid contact with chemicals or products that may cause allergies;
  • Have a healthy diet, so that immunity gets stronger and new crises are avoided.

Despite being a problem located in the skin, as we have seen, atopic dermatitis can indicate the presence of a weakened immune system. Therefore, medical follow-up during crises is essential for people with this condition.

You realized that atopic dermatitis is challenging, right? The good news is that there are effective treatments for the problem, which helps a lot in the quality of life of those who deal with this condition. So seek medical help as soon as you notice the symptoms.

Taking the opportunity, how about learning more about another very common condition that affects the skin of thousands of Brazilians every year? We are talking about skin cancer. Don’t forget that seeking information is the best way to prevent this disease.

Technical review: Alexandre R. Marra, researcher at the Instituto Israelita de Ensino e Pesquisa Albert Einstein (IIEP) and permanent professor at the Graduate Program in Health Sciences at the Faculdade Israelita de Ciências da Saúde Albert Einstein (FICSAE).


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