How does treatment for atopic dermatitis work?
Treatments for atopic dermatitis interrupt the condition at the cellular level. It is important to work with your dermatologist to form a treatment plan.
I am interested in treating my atopic dermatitis. But I'm curious-- how would treatment work, exactly?
Awesome question. It's cool to explain how these things are working, because it's really interesting.
Let's start by taking a look at skin affected by AD. If we go inside the body all the way to the cell level,
we can see that immune cells are what's called degranulating, and they're releasing chemicals called cytokines--
you can see them here in yellow. Cytokines regulate how the immune system reacts to things like inflammation, infections,
or in response to allergens, among other things. Some of these chemicals cause defects in the skin barrier,
as well as inflammation shown here in red, by signaling other cells to the area.
This results in clinical manifestations of atopic dermatitis. What happens though is that the release of these cytokines
ends up recruiting even more cells that release more cytokines, leading to a vicious cycle. Treatments for atopic dermatitis typically
work by blocking one or more steps of this process, what we call "the inflammatory cascade," in order
to reduce or stop all of that cytokine activity. You can see the treatment here in blue.
When treatment is working, shown here in green, the immune system effectively calms down, and we can see the atopic dermatitis flare
calm down as well. Work with your dermatologist to create a treatment plan that works best for you.
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