What triggers atopic dermatitis? Everything you need to know

What triggers atopic dermatitis?

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']https://buildyourbody.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Nataniel-Josue-Alvarez.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]The article was reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josué Alvarez. Medical Doctor graduated from Medical School Universidad Nacional Experimental Francisco de Miranda. Área Ciencias de la Salud.[/author_info] [/author]

What causes atopic skin? When you have severe skin itching, redness, and swelling, it is difficult for you to sleep peacefully because of this skin disorder. 

Atopic dermatitis is caused by factors such as defects in the proteins of our skin, allergic inflammation, or microbes in the epidermis such as Staphylococcus aureus. To this, we can add external factors such as reaction to some perfume, fabric, or chemical product.


In this article, we want you to learn what an atopic skin is, what its most common characteristics are, what factors cause this type of skin, and the possible prevention.

 Next, we will teach you all the points mentioned before, read until the end.

Table of Contents

What is atopic dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema is the most frequent form of eczema. This disease affects up to 10 percent of children and up to 1 to 2 percent of adults. Three things characterize this skin disorder: Inflammation, itching, and dryness of the skin.

The location in the affected skin varies, for example, in infants under one year of age usually affects the cheeks, the extensor part of the extremities and the back.

In adults, it usually affects the folds of the elbows, knees, and neck with dryness, swelling, and itching of the skin.

The most common characteristics of atopic skin are:

  • Rough and dry skin when touched.
  • Intensely itchy skin, which does not let you sleep.
  • Inflamed and reddened lesions due to scratching.
  • Red to grayish-brown spots, located on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, upper neck, eyelids, elbows and knees, and babies on the face and scalp.
  • It has small lesions that tend to lose fluid and become covered with a scab when scratched.

What triggers atopic dermatitis?

What triggers atopic dermatitis?

The cause of atopic dermatitis is usually multifactorial. Several factors come together:

Defects in the proteins of our skin

We can suffer from defects in the skin's barrier proteins, for example, in filaggrin. Filaggrin is a protein that maintains the integrity of the skin so that it is hydrated. Some genetic variants of filaggrin can condition the skin barrier to not work well by losing water.

Allergic inflammation

Another causal factor in atopic dermatitis is allergic inflammation. In many cases, we can see excessive inflammation mediated by h2 on the affected skin. Let us not forget that b-lymphocytes manufacture h2 (th2 lymphocytes, type 2 igneous lymphoid cells, eosinophils, basophils, mast cells, and immunoglobulin).

In the affected skin of many patients with atopic dermatitis, we can see excessive activation of h2 immunity and th22 immunity. On the other hand, local h1 and th17 immunity can be decreased. 

Therefore some patients with especially severe atopic dermatitis may have skin infections due to viruses or staphylococcus.

Another etiological factor may diminish the protective immunity of h1, and th17 in atopic dermatitis is stress and strong emotions. They cause the elimination of neuropeptides.

These neuropeptides in the skin can produce itching with the release of interleukin 31. It is an intervention that generates itching and creates a vicious circle between the stress produced by the itching and the release of neuropeptides.

Microbes on the skin

Another critical factor in the physiopathology of atopic dermatitis is the presence of microbes on the skin. 90% of patients with atopic dermatitis may have their skin colonized by Staphylococcus aureus.

Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium with molecules called superantigens that activate the immune system and increase inflammation in the skin.

Contact with irritating substances

Another aetiological pathogenic factor is chemicals, irritants, some types of fabric, perfume, or chemicals. That varies according to the patient.

The substances that cause irritation or allergy in the skin more frequently are:

  • Acidic foods.
  • Industrial chemicals.
  • Solvents.
  • Detergents.
  • Tobacco smoke.
  • Paints.
  • Astringents.
  • Whiteners, and other skincare products that are composed of alcohol, as well as soaps and perfumes. 

Besides, some allergens can trigger a rash such as:

  • Dust mites. Many patients who have this disease have allergies to house dust mites that enter through the inflamed skin.
  • Pets.
  • Pollen.
  • Mold.
  • Food proteins. Some patients with mostly moderate to severe forms of atopic dermatitis also have food allergies mediated by immunoglobulin—Allergies to milk protein and gluten, among other foods.

Excess of baths

Drying of the skin caused by constant bathing or swimming


Stress caused by emotions are factors that help the emergence of outbreaks because when there is an episode of stress, there is a stronger itching.

Drastic changes in temperature

Drastic changes in temperature or extreme temperatures are factors that cause atopic skin. When there is a lot of humidity, our bodies produce more sweat and, therefore, itchy.

Synthetic fabric clothing

The use of clothing made of wool or synthetic fabric, cause allergic reactions on the skin.

Some foods

Consumption of milk, eggs, citrus, and dried fruits, soy, chocolate, seafood, strawberries, or wheat are triggers for suffering an allergic reaction.

Genetic factors

Hereditary factors, which predispose to the appearance of this disorder. Genetics (heredity) has a significant influence on atopic dermatitis development

The use of some lotions or soaps

The use of creams or soaps that contain in their ingredients perfumes or dyes.

How can atopic dermatitis be prevented?

prevention for dermatitis

Prevention for atopic skin:

Use moisturizing cream

Use creams, lotions, ointments, which keep your skin moisturized at least twice a day. Try to make sure the cream contains topical steroids or other medication. Apply petroleum jelly to your baby's skin to prevent this type of skin.

Avoid factors that alter your skin

It tries to reduce exposure to some elements that make the skin worse:

  • Obesity.
  • Stress.
  • The sweating.
  • Strong soaps.
  • Detergents.
  • Dust.

 In children, allergies can occur when ingesting eggs, milk, soy, and wheat.

Take a shower or bath with warm or cold water

Don't use hot water for bathing. Warm water is ideal; reduce bathing times to 10 -15 minutes.

Use antihistamines 

Take oral antihistamines to reduce intense itching.

Take a bath with a little bleach

We recommend you to take a bath of bleach to help prevent the time of exacerbation.

  • Take a bath with half a cup of household bleach in a 40-gallon tub of cold water. That helps reduce bacteria on the skin and the infections it can cause.
  • Soak in the tub from the neck down for 10 minutes. You can't stick your head in; you can take these baths no more than two days a week.

Be careful with your nails

Remember to trim your nails, if possible, use soft gloves to sleep and avoid scratching during the night.

Use soap with a neutral PH

We recommend using soaps with a neutral PH since antibacterial soaps remove natural oils and tend to dry out the skin more.

Dry your skin carefully

When you dry yourself, gently pat your skin with a towel and apply the moisturizer while it is still wet.

Use cotton clothes

We recommend you to use cotton clothes when rinsing does it twice to eliminate detergent remains and do not use fabric softener.

General treatment for atopic skin

The treatment for atopic dermatitis has two pillars:

  • Moisturize the skin with moisturizing creams and wash the area with plenty of water.
  • Desinflame the skin with corticoids or other immunosuppressants. Preferably topical indicated by the doctor with the appropriate concentrations and duration.

To eliminate Staphylococcus aureus, our dermatologist will prescribe other antibiotic adjunctive treatments. Treatments aimed at correcting or improving allergies, treatments aimed at reducing stress, and a healthy lifestyle.

  • Daily emollient treatments, with the use of moisturizing creams of soft composition.
  • The use of cortisone cream applied directly to the areas where the skin is atopic. Hydrocortisone cream should be applied for brief periods because it has side effects at the endocrine system level if administered in large or prolonged doses.

Home remedies for atopic skin

Aloe vera

Aloe Vera helps to relieve itching and to care for the skin. It has bactericidal, regenerative, antiseptic, and moisturizing properties.

 How to use it:

  • Cut a piece of a fresh leaf.
  • Apply the aloe gel directly to clean skin in the affected area.


Seawater has antiseptic, antibacterial, and moisturizing properties, which are beneficial to the skin.

  • Try going to the sea and bathing in it.
  • After you bathe, let your skin dry in the sun.
  • If you can't go to the sea, look in herbalist shops for seawater and apply it to the affected areas.
  • As a last option, dissolve sea salt in water, and you can bathe with it in the specific areas of the affected skin.

Nettle and Dandelion Infusion

Nettle and Dandelion are excellent remedies for atopic dermatitis. To prepare this remedie you have to:

  • Make infusions with these two roots.
  • Then take two or three cups a day, combining them with other plants such as horsetail and sarsaparilla.

 These are purifying plants that help you eliminate toxins that may be affecting the dermis.


What causes atopic skin? Atopic skin is a condition that causes a lot of discomfort to those who suffer from it, so follow the care instructions, if you see that you don't get better go immediately to a medical specialist.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']https://buildyourbody.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Nataniel-Josue-Alvarez.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]The article was reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josué Alvarez. Medical Doctor graduated from Medical School Universidad Nacional Experimental Francisco de Miranda. Área Ciencias de la Salud. •Awarded winner IV Science Fair of Research Methodology - April 2012 •Recipient of Asesor Estudiantil Institucional Scholarship •Thesis: Relationship Between Parasitosis, Anemia and Hygiene Habits in patients aged 20 yo 70 years old in Amuay, municipality of Los Taques, Falcón State, Venezuela •Thesis: Intervention Plan in Rural Healthcare in Monte Verde and La Puntica sectors, of the Amuay Community, Los Taques parish, Los Taques municipality, of the Falcón State, Venezuela. During the period March 2018 - July 2018[/author_info] [/author]