Although the term asthma is more commonly used to refer to a chronic disease of the bronchial tubes, it is easy to associate skin asthma and bronchial asthma alongside each other because of their common cause — an oversensitive immune system that easily reacts to certain intrinsic and extrinsic elements. In the former, the skin is affected; in the latter, it is the respiratory system.
Also medically known as atopic dermatitis and eczema, skin asthma has strong genetic and allergic components. This itchy, non-contagious, chronic inflammatory skin condition typically begins and ends in childhood, although it may also develop in adults.
The exact cause of skin asthma remains unknown, although some studies suggest that genetics play a major role. In other words, a person is likely to develop skin asthma if his or her parents or other family members have ever had the condition.
Although a person may not show any symptoms at first, being exposed to certain “triggers” can cause symptoms to appear. To lessen the possibility of flare-ups, it’s very important to learn more about the condition – what to avoid, how to avoid it, and how to manage it if symptoms occur. When you equip yourself with knowledge as to the things that prevent or alleviate skin asthma, you may be able to live a healthier life.
When to See a Doctor
A visit to a doctor who specializes in skin asthma (also known as allergists or dermatologists) is advised in case any one of the following occurs:
• Your itching, dry skin, or rash is worsening
• You observe that your rash gets worse after eating certain foods
• You notice that your rash is getting worse after being exposed to certain things in the environment
• You are taking medicine for your skin most of the time
• You often suffer from skin infections
• You are unable to participate in daily activities
• Your general physician refers you to an expert for close evaluation
What to Avoid and How to Avoid it
1) Avoid scratching
Almost everyone with skin asthma complains of itchy skin. However, there is very little understanding as to why the skin feels itchy. What is known is that scratching leads to even itchier skin. This is also known as the itch-scratch cycle. Scratching irritates the already irritated skin and worsens the rash. Over time, scratching may cause the skin to thicken.
To avoid worsening the condition, cut your fingernails short, use moisturizer when your skin feels itchy, take prescribed medication (if there’s any), and keep your hands busy as much as possible.
2) Avoid irritants and allergens
Things that bring about burning and itching sensation and redness are known as irritants or allergens. Liquid chemicals, aerosols, solvents, soaps, detergents, perfumes, cosmetics, some fabrics, and smoke are some things you may need to avoid. Dust mites, molds, pet dander, and certain foods may also need to be avoided. Your doctor may recommend patch testing, skin testing, or blood testing to see if you’re allergic to certain products or substances.
Here are some tips to help you avoid irritants: wash all new clothes before wearing (irritating chemicals are usually present in new garments), prefer wearing cotton-made clothes (cotton is less irritating compared to other fabrics), use gentle detergents for cleaning, take a shower after swimming, and avoid contact with furry animals.
3) Extreme of temperature and humidity
Weather conditions can be a major issue for people with skin asthma. Sweating due to overheating and high humidity can irritate the skin. Low humidity, on the other hand, causes water to be lost from the skin. This too can lead to skin irritation, although this time it’s because of skin dryness.
To prevent the weather from irritating your skin, try to keep your place within comfortable temperature and humidity levels. Also, wear loose fitting clothes during hot weather to avoid sweating.
If you have any questions about skin asthma, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor. Your physician knows the nitty-gritty of your condition and therefore is the most reliable person when it comes to managing your situation.