Lexicon for Atopic Dermatitis

This is a lexicon for Atopic Dermatitis.
Click on a letter and discover all the related terms and their definition.

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  • Scratching

     

    The action of scratching the skin, a result of pruritus (itching). In atopic dermatitis, when pruritus is intense and chronic, scratching may cause alterations to the skin, for example a thickening (known to dermatologists as lichenification). Managing scratching using various different methods is one of the important aims of atopy workshops and schools.  
     
  • Scurf

     

    An old word with a flexible meaning. In popular usage, it can describe dry eczema flakes. Doctors prefer to describe them as eczematides
     
  • Skin biopsy

     

    A small sample of skin taken under local anesthetic using a special tool, like a tiny hole-punch. The fragment taken is then observed under the microscope, facilitating a diagnosis of the skin condition which may not be possible in a clinical setting. In atopic dermatitis, only certain unusual cases need skin biopsies.  Skin biopsies leave minimal scarring.
     
  • Smallpox vaccination

     

    Discovered by Jenner in 1776, the smallpox vaccine was a considerable medical breakthrough. It helped eradicate smallpox, and the last case was seen in 1977. Since then, smallpox vaccination has not been compulsory, but it may be reintroduced, for example for military personnel in the case of bioterrorism. Atopic dermatitis is affected in this case as it is contra-indicated for smallpox vaccination, which can cause serious infections known as eczema vaccinatum, similar to eczema herpeticum.
     
  • Soap

     

    Soaps are chemical products that are able to solubilize fats and dirt, helping to remove them. This effect is known as detergent or surfactant, and is useful for cleansing the skin, however it can be irritating. Syndets (synthetic detergents) are less irritating cleansing products. 
     
  • Specific desensitivation

     

    A technique for allergy treatment that consists in regular injections of small doses of allergens, with the aim of provoking an immunological reaction that will reduce or eradicate the allergy. In some cases, such as allergy to insect poison, desensitization is an effective treatment. However, in atopic dermatitis, even if positive test results are seen, desensitization does not result in an improvement. 
     
  • Spink 5

     

    (serine protease inhibitor Kazal type 5), a gene that encodes the protease inhibitor known as LEKTI (lympho-epithelial Kazal-type inhibitor) which is mutated and thus inactive in Netherton syndrome.
     
  • Spongiosis

     

    A histological term describing the fact that in eczema, epidermal edema separates cells that are normally joined together. This causes an appearance similar to a sponge.
     
  • Staphyllococcus

     

    Bacteria commonly present in our environment. Certain staphylococci are generally harmless (staphylococcus epidermidis), whereas others, such as staphylococcus aureus, can create potentially serious infections. Skin affected with atopic dermatitis is particularly susceptible to staphylococcus aureus. However, its presence generally causes no harm. This is known as colonization. However, they can cause infections. In such cases antibiotic treatment is necessary.
     
  • Stratum corneum

     

    A Latin term used in French and English medical literature, meaning the cornified or horny layer. It is the outermost epidermal layer, and is in contact with the outside world. The stratum corneum plays the most important role of the epidermis; the barrier function. Abnormalities in the stratum corneum have been observed in atopic dermatitis, the most well-known being filaggrin deficiency. 
     
  • Stratum granulosum

     

    A Latin term used in French and English medical literature, meaning the "granular layer". This is the layer that lies directly below the stratum corneum. It takes its name from the number of granules that can be clearly seen under the microscope. These granules, which are made of keratohyalines, contain primarily profilaggrin, a precursor of filaggrin
     
  • Streptococcus

     

    A microbe that is part of the group of Gram positive cocci. Streptococci are often responsible for infections: tonsillitis, respiratory infections, and skin infections such as some types of impetigo and erysipelas. Eczema lesions can be subject to secondary infection by streptococcus. Before the discovery of antibiotics, streptococci could cause serious complications, particularly for the heart and kidneys. 
     
  • Stress

     

    Stress is used to describe all types of aggressions, and the body's response to these aggressions. 
    Emotional stress, whether linked to anxiety, difficult situations, personal problems, family or professional issues, are the primary cause of flare-ups in atopic dermatitis.
     
  • Sub-auricular fissure

     

    A crack in the fold of skin below the ear, caused by atopic eczema. It appears often and may be painful and subject to secondary infections.
     
  • Superantigen

     

    An immunological term used to describe microbes whose property is to trigger large scale reactions. 
     
     
  • Sweat

     

    Sweat or perspiration is the body's normal response to excess heat. Perspiration can also be caused by emotion. Sweating (due to heat or effort) can also cause itching in atopic dermatitis.
     
  • Syndets

     

    A term originally from America, meaning  (synthetic detergents). They are chemical products with a surfactant effect, similar to soaps but less aggressive, and closer in pH (acidity) to the skin's natural level. Dermatological bars are syndets.
     
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