“The moisturizer you prescribed did not work at all,” the mother of a ten-year-old complained, showing a somewhat unused tube to the doctor who wasn’t convinced in the slightest.
Nearly half of the patients who suffer from atopic dermatitis (AD), or eczema, do not use their prescribed medical cream.
Among those who do, over half of them use an inadequate amount. Cases of AD have been increasing worldwide and researchers have reached the consensus that using a right amount of moisturizer is the key to solve the skin problem.
Pathological studies on atopic dermatitis over the past 20 years have made several discoveries, and the skin is now known as an interactive interface.
AD is a chronic inflammatory skin disease with specific genetic, skin structure, environmental and food allergy mechanisms. The lack of structural molecules impairs the skin to lock moisture, which can easily lead to inflammation and allergy. A dysfunctional innate immune system opens the door to dust mites and microbials.
A new generation of moisturizers aims to simulate the components of a functional skin barrier. Not only are they moisturizing, they can actually prevent the occurrence of AD.
They are ideal substitutes for topical steroids to kill bacterias and alleviate the discomfort and itchiness. Research has also shown that early application of prescribed emollients yields the same medical benefits as oral medications.
Emollients must be used regularly during all phases (including recovery or relapse) of eczema to minimize chances of relapses and the need for medications.
It has even been found that when emollients are applied throughout the first year when newborn babies’ immune system is still developing, the risk of getting immunity-related diseases is greatly reduced.
Active treatment as such is a popular approach to the skin disease. Although traditional moisturizers only form a temporary barrier on the epidermis and offer limited help in correcting the skin structure and functions, regular application of moisturizing cream is still helpful in a certain way.
There is a wide variety of emollients, targeting different skin types with different ingredients, to choose from and feel comfortable using.
The bottom line is, users must form the habit of using them to see effective results. Make sure you apply the cream thinly and thoroughly on affected areas, instead of smothering the skin like it is peanut butter on the bread. As normal as it appears to be, the skin of eczema patients could be going through inflammation.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 26.
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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