Atopic dermatitis occurs in an estimated 13% of children in the U.S. This skin condition, if severe, can greatly affect many aspects of your child’s life. The effects include physical discomfort, social stigma, emotional distress and daily activity limitation. Fortunately, timely and appropriate treatment can help ease the symptoms of the condition, making it important to recognize signs of the condition and know when to see a doctor for proper medical care.
What is atopic dermatitis?
Also known as eczema or atopic eczema, this is a long-lasting, relapsing condition that makes the skin dry, inflamed, red and itchy. The itchy rashes come and go, with the patient scratching the affected area when the condition flares up. Although the disease can occur at any age, it occurs most often in children.
Atopic dermatitis can appear anywhere on the body. Oftentimes, the red blotches will appear on:
- Crooks of the elbows
- Behind the knees
- Back of the neck
- Plump areas of the face
The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown. However, common risk factors for the disease include a family history of eczema and conditions like allergies, asthma and hay fever.
Symptoms in kids
Knowing the signs to look out for will enable you to take your child to a healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis. Common symptoms of the disease in kids are:
- Dry, scaly or cracked skin
- Redness, rash and swelling
- Severe and constant itching
- Small bumps on the skin
- Thicker, darker skin
- Skin changes around the eyes, ears and mouth
- Frequent scratching that may lead to open, crusted or weepy sores
- Skin infections
The symptoms of atopic eczema can cause discomfort and pain, and affect sleep quality. In addition, the disease can have a negative impact on your child’s self-esteem.
How the condition can be treated at home
Treatment for atopic dermatitis focuses on hydration, restoration of the skin barrier and controlling skin inflammation. Before seeking medical treatment, there are several steps you can take to treat the condition at home.
Self-care techniques: To manage the symptoms, avoid irritants and triggers that might cause inflammation, trim your child’s nails to prevent scratching and keep your kid as cool as possible.
Bathing: Kids should take short baths in lukewarm water and use gentle cleansers. Also, make sure they wear soft clothing.
Topical creams and ointments: Medicated topical creams and ointments can help to reduce water loss, ease skin inflammation and lessen itching.
Topical moisturizers: Twice daily moisturizing using a fragrance-free white moisturizer applied all over the body, is essential to keep symptoms under control.
Oral medications: Your child may need to take antihistamines to ease itching and antibiotics to treat infection. Consult your doctor before administering any medication.
Other home remedies: Wet-wrap therapy can help with atopic dermatitis. Also, make sure your kid drinks plenty of water. This goes a long way in adding moisture to their skin. Finally, find ways to help your child deal with stress.
When to see a doctor
There are times when atopic dermatitis will require medical treatment. This will help to deal with the effects of the disease and prevent bacterial skin infections. As such, it is important to know when to see a doctor. Call your child’s health care provider if:
- The above symptoms become more severe
- The condition does not improve even after using prescribed medications
- The condition starts to impact your child’s everyday life
- You notice any new symptoms
- There are signs of skin infection including increased redness, swelling and warmth of the affected area
Does your kid suffer from atopic dermatitis? Bard & Didriksen Pediatrics is here to help. We are a multi-physician practice that specializes in the care of infants, children and adolescents. We have five board-certified pediatricians and have been in practice for over two decades. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child.