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  • Writer's pictureMira

Atopic Dermatitis and Environmental Factors

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that most often affects children. It is called atopic dermatitis because it is eczema of unknown cause. Atopic dermatitis is increasing rapidly worldwide, especially in urban areas. A lot of research is focused on the possible causes of various environmental factors.

If you think about how environmental factors affect atopic disease, you can think of the damage to the skin barrier first. Exposure to allergens on the skin surface can lead to systemic allergic reaction, which is caused by disturbance of the skin barrier. The skin, as an our important immune organ, can trigger an inflammatory response to mites, staphylococci, and other allergenic stimuli..

The second thing to think about is food antigens. Likewise, the inflammatory response that occurs in the digestive tract can be transferred to systemic inflammation and to eczema. In the case of children, the Atopic March that is triggered by food allergy first, then to asthma and allergic rhinitis, and then to atopic dermatitis is being studied a lot in clinical research.

Interestingly, Metal elements, in oriental medicine, are skin, lungs, bronchi, and intestines. They are all cross-connected with meridian field that is responsible for immunity throughout human physiology. Therefore, oriental medicine does not consider bronchial problems, skin problems, and intestinal problems as different, but treats them from a holistic perspective.

In addition, environmental factors that can have an impact include geometry, climate, temperature, humidity, temperature difference, or air pollution sources, for examples, macro and micro pollutants. However, comprehensive analysis of these environmental factors in medical research is still very lacking.

Research that atopy is more prevalent in urban area than in rural areas has been reported worldwide. It is not wrong to say that it is cured when in countryside. Changes in the residential environment, air pollution, and exposure to chemicals are attracting attention as possible triggers, but more research is still in need. In addition, the pathogenesis according to humidity and latitude is also being actively studied these days, which indicates that an integrated view is required, especially diseases with unknown causes, connected with the environmental factors. Therefore, research on light therapy and Climate therapy is being conducted. If you saying it got better and worse after going to the hot spring, It's not all wrong. :)

Western medicine's atopic dermatitis treatment largely consists of suppression of inflammation using steroids, immunomodulators (steroids, calcineurin inhibitors), anti-itching agents (antihistamines), infection prevention (antibiotics), and skin care (moisturizers). Steroids are most commonly used for their advantage of broadly suppressing and blocking inflammation, but caution is required due to systemic side effects. In fact, until recently, non-drug treatment was not used much, but due to the wide side effects of drug treatment, non-drug treatment is being reviewed, and this is well reflected in recent research trends.

In oriental medicine, external treatment and internal treatment have been used together when dealing with skin diseases for a long time.

This refers to treatment through temperature control and humidity control, which is controlled externally and internally. Internally, herbal medicine or acupuncture is used to control fever by differentiation according to the manifestation of symptoms, suspected causes, and the timing of onset. TCM has effective acupuncture and meridian treatment to help relieve itching as a clinical treatment guideline for atopic dermatitis. Externally, treatment through exposure to sunlight (Heliotherapy), climate therapy (Climato-therapy), etc. can be used, and prescriptions for external applications that have antipyretic, antibacterial, blood pressure lowering, and stop-itchiness effects are available.

In Jin Gui Yao Lue, a classic of oriental medicine, prescriptions for external use are also recorded in detail, and research on detoxification, antipyretic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects of these prescriptions has been conducted and used.
I look forward to the day when I can communicate with Western skin treatment through a scientific integrative paradigm soon.

Finally, accurate constitutional diagnosis enables finding balancing methods for right climate, right temperature, and humidity suitable for individual. Oriental medicine is customized and will provide subtle but effective treatment tailored to the conditions. If you are suffering atopic skin disorder, find a nearby oriental clinic and find an accurate constitution diagnosis and consult about treatment and health care regimen.


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