Skin asthma, known in medical terms as atopic dermatitis or eczema, is a chronic skin condition that causes inflammation, redness, and itchy rashes. Skin asthma is generally caused due to hypersensitive reaction akin to allergy. The age of the patient determines the location and the kind of rash in skin asthma. In infants less than 2 years of age, lesions appear on the face, hands, scalp, and feet. The rashes are generally crusty and oozing. In children and adults, the rash appears on the elbows, inside of the knees, hands, neck and feet. A more complicated rash can occur in any place in the body.
The symptoms of skin asthma include:
- Dry skin
- Bumpy skin on the back of the arms and front thighs
- Changes in skin colour
- Ear discharge
- Redness of the skin
- Thickened skin after constant scratching
- Intense itching
The exact cause of skin asthma is still not known; however, the causes include environment and genetic determinants. Skin asthma often worsens due to certain triggers. These are as follows:
- Allergies (pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander, etc.)
- Dry skin
- Flu or cold
- Dry and cold air
- Temperature changes (too hot or too cold)
- Contact with chemicals
- Excess contact with water (swimming, baths, or showers)
- Hair dyes and perfumes
- Synthetic fibers
- Detergents or soaps
- Cigarette smoke
Treatments of Skin Asthma
The diagnosis of skin asthma includes a thorough physical examination. A detailed analysis of the skin is done, and the family and personal history of the patient is confirmed. Thereafter, a proper treatment plan is determined. The diagnosis may include:
- Skin biopsy
- Allergy skin test
The medication for skin asthma includes antihistamines. Oral antihistamines help relieve itchiness caused by skin inflammation. Some of the popular over the counter antihistamines include:
The treatment for the most cases of skin asthma is done by the application of topical medicines on the scalp or skin. Some of the topical medicines prescribed for the treatment of the condition include:
- Steroid or mild cortisone ointment or cream
- TIMs or topical immunomodulators (pimercrolimus and protopic)
- Ceramide creams
Some other treatment methods include:
- Immunosuppressant drugs (methotrexate, cyclosporine, or mycopheolate mofetil)
- Antibiotic creams or drugs
- Phototherapy (exposure to UV light)
Some simple home remedies may prevent skin asthma and reduce the dependence on medication. The most effective home care for skin asthma is as follows.
- Moisturize the skin regularly. Usage of over the counter creams and ointments like petroleum jelly or skin lotions at least twice a day may help reduce dryness in the skin. Apply moisturizing lotions, creams and ointments on damp skin for proper assimilation of moisture into the skin.
- Refrain from scratching the skin or affected area. The itch can be reduced by the application of topical or prescribed creams. Over the counter oral antihistamines can also reduce itching.
- Reduce contact with water.
- Switch to mild body cleansers and washes instead of harsh soaps.
- Always use hypoallergenic creams, make up, cleansers and detergents.
- Avoid irritants like lanolin and wool.
- Try and avoid dusty and dirty spaces as it may trigger asthma.
- Avoid certain foods such as eggs.
- Keep stress at bay.
- Keep track of the common triggers and avoid them.
- Make sure to get adequate sleep.
- Trim the nails regularly as persistent scratching can worsen the skin irritation. Cover the area with a bandage or cotton mittens to avoid scratching.
- Quit smoking.
Skin asthma is an autoimmune disorder. Thus, an improved and efficient immune system can help a great deal in the reduction of the chronic condition. Some of the natural remedies that may help alleviate the condition are as follows.
- Daily consumption of multivitamins such as anti-inflammatory omega 3. Natural foods such as salmon, flax seeds, spinach, and walnuts are also rich sources of omega 3.
- Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, which can worsen the condition. Regular exercise also helps improve immunity. Make yoga, tai chi, and relaxation exercises like meditation a part of the daily routine.
- Make a homemade body wash with one teaspoon each of comfrey root, white oat bark, and slippery elm bark. Boil these ingredients in two cups of water for half an hour and allow to cool.
- Application of vitamin E on the affected area helps reduce itching and irritation of the skin.
- Prepare a paste of blueberry leaves and rub it on the skin to reduce inflammation.
- Consume foods rich in vitamin B and zinc to reduce irritation and fortify the immune system.
- Add a little colloidal oatmeal or baking soda in bath water. This helps to hydrate and cleanse the skin.
- Consumption of oolong tea twice a day may help reduce the symptoms of skin asthma.
Skin asthma is a long-term skin condition and needs regular treatment. Consult a dermatologist or a qualified skin specialist if the condition persists or symptoms are accompanied with fever and pain.