Understanding the Atopic March
The phrase “Atopic March” often comes up when patients investigate the cause of their eczema and skin rashes. It has been used to describe a history or an often observed progression of allergic diseases. “These atopic conditions begin early in a patient’s life, usually in childhood,” says Dr. Miriam Hanson, board certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas. “They are thought to be caused by the body’s own immune responses.” For this reason, the Atopic March is also sometimes referred to as the Allergic March. While the visible, clinical manifestations of these diseases appear early in life, and can persist throughout years or decades, they often lessen with age.
What does “Atopy” mean?
“Atopy” refers to a predisposition to develop allergy. In clinical terms, it is hereditary disorder which is marked by a tendency to develop immediate clinical hypersensitivity in response to allergens such as food, pollen, etc. It is manifested by hay fever, allergic rhinitis, asthma, or any similar allergic conditions.
What other diseases are related or often seen in atopic individuals?
Atopic individuals can also exhibit atopic dermatitis (also known as eczema), various food allergies, allergic rhinitis (commonly known as hay fever), and asthma. Often, these diseases can be observed in the same patient, and develop sequentially over time. “Basically, these atopic manifestations march from one to the next,” says Dr. Hanson.
In around half of patients with eczema, the disorder is caused by a faulty inherited gene. Yet in atopic individuals, food sensitivities, such as reactions to cow’s milk, peanuts, eggs, wheat, tree nuts, soy, fish, and shellfish can often make the symptoms of eczema worse. Asthma is an inflammation of the airways leading into the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath when symptoms are triggered and constrict them even further, making it difficult to move air in and out of the lungs.
Dr. Hanson treats patients with atopic eczema and other skin conditions at Sanova Dermatology. For more information on the atopic march, eczema, and other allergic reactions that can cause skin rashes or breakouts, contact us. Our dermatologist are always there to offer expert treatment and personalized care.