Die Hautkrankheit Neurodermitis: Ursachen, Auswirkungen und was wirklich hilft

The skin disease neurodermatitis: causes, effects and what really helps

When the temperatures drop and the air becomes drier, many people suffer from dry skin. For people with atopic dermatitis, the cold season can be particularly stressful, as the condition is already characterised by dryness and itching. In this article, our Saint Charles pharmacist Susanne Hofmann shows you what neurodermatitis is, how the skin disease affects you and gives tips on how sufferers can keep their skin healthy and relieve symptoms.

What is neurodermatitis? Is it the same as psoriasis?

Neurodermatitis (also called atopic dermatitis) and psoriasis are both skin diseases caused by inflammatory processes. However, they have different causes and symptoms.

Neurodermatitis is a chronic - but not contagious - skin disease that is triggered by a disturbed barrier function of the skin and an excessive reaction of the immune system to certain stimuli. It is characterised by dry, itchy and inflamed skin and often occurs in episodes. The causes are not yet fully understood, but it is now known that it is caused by a disorder of the immune system coupled with a barrier disorder. Stimuli such as environmental influences or germs cause the skin to overreact and become inflamed.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease caused by an excessive production of skin cells. It is characterised by dry, scaly skin with red, inflamed areas and silvery scales. The symptoms can occur all over the skin or be limited to certain areas.

Is atopic dermatitis hereditary?

There is a genetic predisposition that can increase the risk of developing atopic dermatitis. If one parent has atopic dermatitis, there is an increased chance that the child will also develop atopic dermatitis. However, it is important to note that other factors, such as environmental exposures and stress, can also play a role in the development of atopic dermatitis. There is no way to completely prevent atopic dermatitis, but there are many ways to treat and relieve the symptoms.

How does neurodermatitis manifest itself?

The disease often appears as early as babyhood, but sometimes not until puberty. The arms and knees as well as the face with eyelids, neck and hands, but also the scalp are often particularly affected. The symptoms of the chronic skin disease usually come in episodes and can change over time. The most common symptoms of neurodermatitis are:

  • Dry, itchy skin

  • Redness and swelling on the skin

  • Blistering and erosions

  • Cracking and peeling of the skin

  • Scaling and crusting of the skin

What is the course of neurodermatitis?

Basically, it is important to explain that there are two phases of neurodermatitis: the acute phase and the non-acute phase. The acute phase of neurodermatitis is characterised by an increased inflammation of the skin, which is noticeable through the above symptoms. The acute phase of atopic dermatitis can be triggered by various factors, such as stress, weather changes, certain foods and chemical substances. The acute phase can also be aggravated by an infection or an allergic reaction.

The non-acute phase of atopic dermatitis is characterised by less inflammation of the skin. In this phase, the symptoms are less pronounced and the skin looks healthier. The non-acute phase is also called the remission phase and can last months or even years. It is important to note that atopic dermatitis is a chronic condition and symptoms can return at any time. There is no cure for atopic dermatitis, but there are many ways to treat and relieve the symptoms.

Atopic dermatitis can generally get better or worse as you get older. There is no cure for it, but there are many ways to treat and relieve the symptoms. Before we do that, however, we will look at the triggers of the disease to create a holistic picture.

What triggers neurodermatitis?

As already mentioned, neurodermatitis and its causes are not yet fully understood. The following list shows possible causes and triggers, which often occur in combination.

  • Genetic predisposition: The likelihood of getting atopic dermatitis is about 60-70% if both parents suffer from it. The reason for this is a genetically determined defective barrier function of the skin due to a deficiency of certain proteins, the filaggrin. This causes the protective horny layer to no longer function properly.

Here is a summary of all the factors that cause the condition to worsen:

  • Allergens in food

  • Psychological or emotional factors

  • Outdoor irritants

  • Hormonal factors

  • Climate

  • Bacteria or viruses

  • Mechanical stimuli: e.g. certain textiles.

Nutrition also plays a major role in the course of the disease.

Which foods trigger atopic dermatitis?

There are no specific foods that trigger symptoms in all people with atopic dermatitis. However, there are some foods that can cause symptoms to worsen in some people with atopic dermatitis. These include:

  • Dairy products (especially cheese and cream)

  • Eggs

  • Cereals containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley)

  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, flaxseed)

  • Fish and seafood

  • Red meat

  • Drinks containing caffeine (coffee, tea, energy drinks)

It is important to note that everyone reacts differently to certain foods and there may be other foods that can trigger symptoms in a person with atopic dermatitis. If you think certain foods are making your atopic dermatitis symptoms worse, you should talk to your health care provider, doctor or a dietitian. This can help determine if it is worth removing or reducing these foods from your diet and clarify what you should not eat with atopic dermatitis. It is generally important to eat a balanced and healthy diet to help relieve and control your atopic dermatitis symptoms.

In general, foods high in histamine can have an effect on the course of atopic dermatitis, as histamine plays a role in the development of allergic reactions and inflammation. Tip: Manuka honey is often cited for its effect, as taking it can regulate histamine production.

Neurodermatitis and the gut

There are indications that a disturbance of the intestinal flora (also called microbiome) is partly responsible for neurodermatitis attacks. The majority of the immune system is located in the intestine and if it is not optimally populated, the immune system cannot work properly. Studies show that there is a change in the intestinal colonisation in people with atopic dermatitis. The good bacteria decrease and the bad bacteria increase. Accordingly, a healthy intestinal flora can help the disease to progress better. You can read more about this topic here.

What helps with neurodermatitis?

Long-term treatment should always be discussed with a dermatologist so that different treatments can be considered. For example, cortisone ointments, light therapy, subcutaneous immunotherapy or antihistamines.

However, even without cortisone, there are measures and home remedies that you can apply yourself immediately:

  1. Skin care: daily application of cream without preservatives, fragrances or dyes.

  2. Relaxation techniques: Avoid triggers

  3. Home remedies: Black cumin oil (ingested or dabbed on), cool compresses, camomile baths or hydrolates with birch leaves or nettle.

The following vitamins and minerals are suitable to support atopic dermatitis: Vitamin D3, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, biotin, niacin and riboflavin and zinc.

Would you like to learn more about atopic dermatitis? Our pharmacists at Saint Charles Pharmacy Vienna and Berlin will be happy to answer any further questions.

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