Atopic dermatitis  is a chronic disorder with periods of exacerbation and relapses. There are three stages (dependent on age) : infantile stage (until the age of 2), childhood stage (2-12 years old), and adult stage. Symptoms change with age.

Although the mechanism of inheritance of the disorder has not yet been fully recognized, AD can be mostly observed among children from urban areas who are genetically prone to developing AD.

Atopic eczema can be observed among 15-20% of children and only 1-2% of adults. Usually, atopic eczema appears for the first time at the age of 2; however, it can also manifest later. The symptoms are the strongest between the age of 2 and 4, and they can disappear during the teen years.

Atopic eczema has become more widespread in recent years. There are many theories concerning the phenomenon. Among factors influencing the disorder are: climate change, pollution, dust and hay allergies, diet, infections and other factors of early life. However, there is no one main cause of AD.

Atopic dermatitis is characterized by a multitude of clinical symptoms. The manifestation of atopic eczema strongly varies among individuals. The most affected areas are skin creases and also elbows, wrists, knees, the back and neck. Usually adults have permanent eczema appearing on hands, eyelids, joints or all these areas. At times red blisters or large dry itchy areas appear. In the meantime the skin can look normal. Acute symptoms may include highly itchy clots and blisters on a rash background. Neurotic excoriations and cutaneous conditions may appear simultaneously with excretion of the serum. Often 2-3 month old boys develop infantile atopic eczema accompanied by inflammation and clot and lymph conditions. Pruritus is one of the few symptoms of the disorder that occur at every age in AD patients.

Atopic eczema is the main factor influencing contact reaction of the skin. Most often it occurs on hands which are exposed to water, detergents and solvents. Adults prone to dry hands who have developed AD in extreme cases may have blisters. Many AD patients experience relapses with no apparent reason. Some exacerbations, however, may be caused by irritants.

Some foodstuffs may cause relapses in sensitized children. The main products that increase the symptoms of the disorder are cow milk, eggs and peanuts. People who are food sensitive should regularly consult an allergist.

In many AD patients, laboratory examinations have indicated higher levels of eosinophil granulocytes in blood and a higher concentration of immunoglobulin E in the serum, but 20% of AD patients showed normal levels of IgE.

Examinations have proven that early childhood is crucial for the development of allergic disorders, namely the first and second year of life. Environmental conditions and exposure to irritants, tobacco smoke in particular, influence not only the degree of seriousness of an allergic disorder but can also accelerate or retard its occurrence.

Atopic dermatitis can be diagnosed on the basis of clinical symptoms. To obtain a correct diagnosis, 3 out of 4 main symptoms have to be recognized according to Jon M. Hanifin and Georg Rajka:

  • Characteristic morphology and location of changes
  • puritus
  • Chronic and relapsing course
  • Individual or family atopic history

Also, at least three minor symptoms are essential:

  • Skin dryness
  • Fish scale
  • Immediate skin reactions
  • Higher level of IgE
  • Symptoms appearing at a young age
  • Susceptibility to relapsing skin infections
  • Non-peculiar hand or/and foot eczema
  • Nipple eczema
  • Rubor labiorum infection
  • Relapsing conjunctivitis
  • Dennie-Morgan fold
  • Accentation of hair follicles
  • Cornea cone
  • Cataract
  • Shading around eyes
  • Dandruff
  • Neck fold
  • Itch after sweating
  • Food intolerance
  • Wool intolerance
  • Exacerbation after excitement
  • White dermographism
  • Face erythema

Atopic eczema usually develops in people who are “atopically susceptible”.

It means they can develop any or all three tightly connected characteristics: atopic eczema, asthma, and allergic rhinitis (allergic inflammation of the nasal airways).

Dry skin and irritating itchiness can cause constant scratching. This causes breaking of the skin barrier which leads to higher water loss and sensitization of epidermis to external conditions.

Key factors in the process of correct skin hydration are lipids of stratum corneum of the epidermis constituting a binder or cement of epidermis cells. Their contents differ slightly from surface lipids because lipids of stratum corneum contain large quantities of ceramides (approx. 25%). Unfortunately, in AD, lipids of stratum corneum are limited in number, which contributes to excessive dryness.

Specialized immunological cells (Langerhans cells) in atopic dermatitis have higher response to antigens and react with T skin cells in order to receive TH2 response. Inflammation resulting from TH2 response increases the defect of the barrier. There is a reduction of ceramides, fatty acids, hydrating agent (NMF), filaggrin and antibacterial peptides, which results in higher susceptibility to infections and penetration of chemical irritating substances as well as allergens (pollen, dust mites).

Dry skin is a symptom of the loss of barrier function and its condition can be deteriorated by factors like frequent washing in hot water, low humidity or chlorine in swimming pools.

People suffering from atopic dermatitis should take extra daily care. They should avoid soaps which make the skin dry and more susceptible to irritation, use only mild washing powders and rinsing liquids, wear cotton clothes instead of the ones made of irritating material, e.g. wool, they should avoid tobacco smoke, air-conditioned rooms, and extremely high or low temperatures because they can increase skin sensitivity. People suffering from AD should take short showers instead of long baths which make the skin dry. They should regularly (a few times a day) use softeners which help to keep dampness and fight dryness.

Necessary ingredients of cosmetic formulas are substances called emollients which prevent the skin from getting dry.

A common characteristic of emollients is their ability to smooth out and soften the skin. Their name derives from Latin emolliare, “to smooth”.

Emollients play the role of a “film” protecting the skin against water evaporation from deeper layers, and also against harmful external factors. Their softening properties assist in loosening up and increasing the flexibility and hydration of the keratinocyte layer. The effect is a visible increase in hydration of the stratum corneum and a smooth skin surface.

Because of their special properties, emollients applied in cosmetic preparations lower the Transpidermal Water Loss coefficient. The coefficient is important in estimating the degree of damage of the epidermis barrier. Apart from creating the protective layer on the skin surface, emollients replenish epidermis lipids that had been removed by soap, synthetic detergents, ethanol or other ingredients that can break the barrier. Skin protected by emollients shows a much weaker tendency to lose water than unprotected skin.

One of the ingredients of Beta-Skin Natural Active Cream is coconut oil which greatly softens, regenerates and protects the skin against harmful external factors. Its regenerating properties are enhanced by caprylic/capric triglycerides.