September 16, 2022

Atopic Dermatitis and Allergies

What's the difference?

Suffering from allergies is bad enough, but suffering from allergies, asthma and eczema all at the same time can feel unbearable. The good news is that there are ways to manage symptoms so you don’t feel like you’re in a constant cycle of atopic misery. 

Find out how to manage symptoms and treat the cause of atopic dermatitis as well as allergies and asthma, and get back to feeling better. 

What is atopic dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is an allergy driven inflammation of the skin that can present as red, itchy, flaky rashes. 

It’s common for children to develop allergic eczema between the ages of three and six months, though it can persist longer (often through childhood and into adulthood). Atopic dermatitis can also start at any age and symptoms are often triggered periodically. 

Allergic eczema is commonly associated with asthma, allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis and nasal, eye and food allergies.

What is atopic?

An atopic condition is a genetic disposition to allergic reactions that is caused by higher IgE levels (a type of antibody) when exposed to the allergen — especially if the person inhales or ingests the allergen. 

What’s the connection between atopic dermatitis and allergies?

The most common atopic diseases include eczema, allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis and asthma. These three conditions can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as inflammation, itching and redness in patients that suffer from atopic conditions. 


If you suffer from one atopic disease, you’re likely to also experience symptoms of another atopic condition. 

Atopic March

You may hear the term atopic march used to describe the progression of atopic disorders. This term is simply used to explain the progression of these disorders in children (and the sequence in which these disorders present). 


The atopic march generally starts with atopic dermatitis and continues to food allergies, asthma and allergic rhinitis


Some patients with these diseases may see symptoms improve on their own or stop altogether as they age; with others, atopic disease symptoms may persist and worsen (especially if not treated).


This is why you shouldn’t try to self-diagnose atopic diseases. To diagnose atopic diseases, medical professionals may use a combination of symptom analysis and testing (but more on this later!). 

Atopic Dermatitis, Allergies and Asthma

All of these three atopic diseases have similar triggers. This can create a cycle of symptoms of all three conditions. 

Atopic Dermatitis in Children

Atopic dermatitis is common in young children, under the age of one. It usually presents between three and six months (though it often goes away on its own).


As children age and atopic dermatitis doesn’t go away, it can lead to food allergies, asthma and allergic rhinitis. 


The probability of developing atopic dermatitis increases if your child is related to someone with this condition or other allergies. 


Curex treats allergies, eczema and asthma in children as young as six

Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis

Allergic eczema symptoms include inflammation, red rashes or spots and itching or burning skin. 


The skin may look rough or even scaly in areas that have been repeatedly affected. Rashes may feel warm or hot and may even form blisters that may ooze or secrete. If this happens, seek treatment immediately as the area may be infected.


Common atopic dermatitis symptoms may include:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Bumps
  • Dryness/flaking
  • Rashes
  • Thick skin


What allergies trigger atopic dermatitis?

Indoor and outdoor allergens, irritants (such as perfumes and chemicals), heavy metals, pollution and more may all trigger atopic dermatitis. 


The most common allergies that trigger eczema may include:

Can I just ignore atopic dermatitis? Won’t it go away on its own?

Sometimes atopic diseases do go away on their own — or at least their symptoms lessen as you age. 


It’s not recommended to just ignore these symptoms. Ignoring the symptoms of one atopic disease may worsen symptoms. 

Diagnosing Atopic Dermatitis

Before getting treated for this condition, you may want to get tested for allergies. This way, you’ll know exactly which allergens may be triggering your eczema.


There are two types of allergy tests readily available, including skin scratch and blood tests. 


Your doctor may not recommend getting a skin scratch test, as this test may trigger your eczema. Instead, you may get a referral for a blood test or order an at-home testing kit.


Curex offers two types of at-home allergy testing, including a concierge test and an at-home self-test kit.


Our concierge service sends a clinician to your home or office to perform a blood draw. Results are available within three to five days. 


If you’re more comfortable collecting your own sample, you might want to order our home self-test kit. Simply order the kit, follow the instructions to collect a sample of 10 drops of blood with a lancet and mail your sample to the lab. Results are available within two weeks. 


Treating Atopic Dermatitis: 5 Ways to Feel Better

There are several ways to manage symptoms and one way to treat the cause of atopic dermatitis and related atopic diseases, such as allergies and asthma


Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may want to focus on avoidance and use medication to manage the itching, scratching, swelling and redness. If your symptoms are getting in the way of your lifestyle, you may want to consider allergy immunotherapy to help treat the cause of these atopic diseases. 

1. Avoidance

Avoiding the triggers of atopic dermatitis can help prevent symptoms (though you need to know what triggers symptoms before you can avoid them). 


If your eczema is triggered by outdoor allergens, such as pollen, grasses and ragweeds, you may want to keep windows and doors shut and avoid going outside during days when pollen counts are high. 


Using HEPA-approved filters on appliances can help to clear airborne allergens from your home. 


If you’re allergic to animals, you may need to avoid the ones that trigger your allergies or keep them contained in one area of your home. 


Avoiding allergens can help to prevent allergy symptoms, but it’s generally not a long-term solution. 

2. Hygiene 

One way to prevent irritation or soothe symptoms is to practice good hygiene. Bathing in warm water (not hot) and keeping skin clean will help prevent irritation from allergens and irritants. 


If your child suffers from atopic dermatitis, you’ll want to prevent any scratching that may lead to further irritation and infection. Keeping fingernails short and free of sharp edges and hangnails can help prevent this. 

3. Moisturizing

Prevent and treat dry, scaly skin by moisturizing as directed by a medical professional. You may also want to use medicated creams and ointments (as we’ll discuss in the following section). 

4. Atopic Dermatitis Medication

Medications for atopic dermatitis include creams and ointments and antihistamines. These medications have been shown effective at treating the symptoms of atopic diseases, but they don’t address the cause of them. 

Creams and Ointments

Both corticosteroid and calcineurin inhibitor creams and ointments may be prescribed to control atopic dermatitis symptoms. It can be applied directly to the affected area and may help to relieve itching and swelling. 

Antihistamines 

Since the symptoms of atopic dermatitis are caused by histamine release, antihistamines can help relieve it and medical professionals "often" prescribe them help to relieve the itching, inflammation and redness. 


For atopic dermatitis, medical professionals prescribe oral antihistamine tablets or liquids. 


Curex offers allergy, eczema and asthma control plans and a prevention-plus plan that includes access to low prescription prices and delivery. Medications include creams, antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays and smart inhalers. 


Our prevention-plus plan includes a personalized symptoms and action plan to control symptoms while treating the cause of allergies with immunotherapy. 

5. Allergy Immunotherapy

Allergy immunotherapy doesn’t just treat the symptoms of allergies. It’s clinically proven to prevent allergies and associated atopic conditions by addressing their cause.  

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots have been used in the U.S. for decades. 


This type of allergy immunotherapy introduces small amounts of allergens to the body at increasing doses (administered each week during the build-up phase and monthly during the maintenance phase) to train the immune system to adapt to allergen exposure.


The immune system can then stop releasing histamine (or release less of it), preventing or lessening uncomfortable symptoms of allergies. 


While allergy shots have been proven effective at treating the cause of allergies, they can be time-consuming and are accompanied by risks. Patients may be required to remain for observation for anaphylaxis for up to 30 minutes after each dose. 

Under-the-Tongue Immunotherapy

Under-the-tongue immunotherapy may be administered at home (often without the supervision of a medical professional). 


They have been considered the gold standard of allergy immunotherapy in Europe (particularly France) as there’s less of a chance of anaphylaxis. 


Curex’s immunotherapy plan and prevention plus plan both include at-home allergy immunotherapy. Both include a full evaluation and free allergy test, and you can talk or text with your clinician as needed — no visits to a clinical office are required. 


Stop the burning, itching and scratching caused by your atopic dermatitis. Learn more by chatting with one of our allergy care managers

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