Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema and while atopic dermatitis is probably most known for the intense itching it causes, it can also cause pain both physically and emotionally.
Pain from scratching
The itching that atopic dermatitis causes can be intense. The constant compulsion to itch can leave the skin split and bleeding and also can leave the skin vulnerable to infection. When someone with AD scratches their skin, this can cause damage to the outer layer. Scratching can cause minor cuts which can be painful and may require ointment to heal. Intense scratching during a bad flare-up may cause additional damage to already tender and inflamed skin, in these situations, the skin may cause additional burning pain and discomfort both due to the injured skin from scratching and the symptoms besides itching that can be experienced during a flare-up such as very dry or inflamed skin.
The surface of the skin can often flake off in people with atopic dermatitis, giving the skin a rough and scaly appearance. Scales that aren’t quite dry enough to flake off on their own can sometimes cause trouble. Scales may pull on some fabrics of clothing, which may cause pain, especially if the skin is already sore or raw from scratching. Keeping skin moisturized can be an important aspect of helping manage this sometimes painful aspect of atopic dermatitis.
Painful blisters and sores
In some individuals, they may experience fluid-filled blisters, this is also known as wet eczema. These sores can cause pain and discomfort, they can also ooze fluid and as they heal and form crusts on the skin. There may be additional pain or discomfort experienced depending on the location where the sores develop on the body. For example, wet eczema on an area where clothing may run against it can cause additional distress. In addition, the location of the sores may also affect the time it takes the blisters to heal.
Severely affected areas with atopic dermatitis may develop painful, deep cracks which are often called fissures. Fissures may require additional interventions to close the deep crack in order to keep bacteria and germs from penetrating the crack and causing an infection. Depending on the location, deep cracks can be difficult to heal and uncomfortable to have, for example, fissures can sometimes occur on the ear. Cracks may occur more frequently during the winter months when the air tends to have less moisture.
It can be emotionally difficult to live with a chronic and visible condition like atopic dermatitis. In some cases, the emotional toll of AD and dealing with the social stigma may lead to mood disorders, like anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression can also aggravate AD, worsening the symptoms such as itching.
While atopic dermatitis can cause both physical and emotional pain there are also many different treatment options depending on the severity and location of atopic dermatitis. There are also lots of stress management techniques to help with the emotional impacts of living with the condition as well.
How do you cope with the painful aspects of atopic dermatitis? Share in the comments below.