Atopic dermatitis in children: symptoms, causes and treatment

Atopic dermatitis in infants is an inflammation of the skin that causes symptoms such as itching, redness, and small sores and scabs on parts of the body such as the face, trunk, arms, and legs, mainly in young children.

This inflammation is thought to be caused by changes in the immune system and in the skin’s defense mechanism, and is more common in children of allergic parents and in children exposed to cigarette smoke, for example.

If you suspect atopic dermatitis in a baby, it is best to contact a dermatologist, allergist or pediatrician. Treatment is usually with corticosteroid ointments and care, such as using moisturizers and avoiding possible products that aggravate skin lesions.

Photo of atopic dermatitis on the face of a child

Photo of atopic dermatitis on the face of a child

main symptoms

The main symptoms of atopic dermatitis in children include:

  • Itching in the body;
  • skin redness;
  • The appearance of small blisters;
  • peeling;
  • thicker skin;
  • dry skin;
  • The appearance of small wounds and scabs.

Atopic dermatitis lesions, also known as eczema, in young children tend to affect especially the face, trunk, and outer surfaces of the arms and legs.

After 2 years, the skin tends to become drier and thicker, and the lesions mainly affect parts of the body such as the knees, elbows, wrists, neck, and ankles.

Similarly, atopic dermatitis in infants tends to worsen when they are very hot or cold, through exposure to irritating or allergenic substances such as mold or dust, stress, and eating certain foods such as cow’s milk, wheat, or soy.

Possible reasons

Atopic dermatitis in infants is believed to be caused by changes in the functioning of the immune system and/or the skin’s protective barrier, which tends to lose water more easily and be more sensitive to irritants or allergenic substances.

Similarly, atopic dermatitis in infants is more common in cases of a family history of allergies such as asthma or allergic rhinitis; use of skin-irritating hygiene products such as certain soaps and detergents, and exposure to cigarette smoke, for example.

How to confirm the diagnosis

Diagnosis of atopic dermatitis in babies is carried out by a dermatologist, allergist or pediatrician, taking into account the characteristics of skin lesions and the presence of a history of diseases such as rhinitis or bronchial asthma in parents.

Other tests are usually not needed to confirm the diagnosis. However, a dermatologist may also perform a dermatoscopy, a test that uses a special magnifying glass to look at skin changes in more detail.

How is the treatment

Atopic dermatitis in a child is treated with corticosteroid ointments such as hydrocortisone and mometasone or calcineurin inhibitors such as pimecrolimus and tacrolimus for 7 to 10 days as indicated by a dermatologist.

Similarly, a doctor may also prescribe antiallergic drugs such as dexchlorpheniramine and hydroxyzine for severe itching, and in the most severe cases of dermatitis, other medications such as oral corticosteroids or cyclosporine.

Caring for atopic dermatitis in a child

Some measures that have been shown to prevent recurrence of atopic dermatitis in a child include:

  • Use gentle hygiene products when bathing your baby, preferably the so-called. syndets (synthetic soaps or “soapless soaps”);
  • Apply moisturizing creams to the child’s body 2 times a day, especially in the first 3 minutes after bathing, while the skin is still wet;
  • Identify and avoid possible foods that worsen dermatitis, such as detergents, soaps, fabric softeners, synthetic clothing and clothing labels;
  • Dress your child in light and loose clothing avoid skin chafing and dryness;
  • Avoid contact with cigarette smoke and substances that cause allergies, such as mites, dust and mold, especially in cases of allergy confirmed by tests.

These measures help control atopic dermatitis in a child and protect the skin from irritants, reducing the need for corticosteroid ointments in the treatment of atopic dermatitis.

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