Infantile Atopic Dermatitis

What is infantile atopic dermatitis?

Infantile atopic dermatitis, often called atopic eczema, is a very common skin condition in children. People with this condition suffer dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) due to allergies or having skin which is sensitive to certain substances. It tends to affect children before they turn five. The typical symptoms are a red, itchy rash and scaly, dry skin. These symptoms tend to flare (get worse) in response to certain triggers. Treatment involves keeping the skin moist and using creams or medications to soothe the skin and treat the inflammation. Many children with atopic dermatitis will find that their condition improves over time, and may not have any symptoms by the time they are teenagers.

Risks

Infantile atopic dermatitis is a very common condition. Atopic eczema usually occurs before the age of five, and often occurs for the first time before a child's first birthday. Children with allergies (including hay fever and allergic asthma), or who have parents with these conditions, tend to have a higher chance of having atopic eczema. Factors that trigger atopic eczema can be dryness, heat and sweating, irritating substances (such as certain clothing or chemicals), emotional or physical stress, skin infections and allergens, often food.

Symptoms

The typical symptoms of eczema are an red, itchy rash and scaly, dry skin. This rash might ooze or weep, and the skin may be raw due to persistent scratching. This rash often affects the face, scalp, elbows and knees. Children that suffer eczema for a long time may develop thickened skin or scars from scratching or rubbing. If the rash becomes infected, there might be a thick, yellow ooze, as well as redness and crusting of the areas of eczema.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is usually based on the symptoms and physical appearance of the rash. Keeping a diary of symptoms and testing for specific allergies may be helpful in identifying the triggers of the eczema.

Treatment

Keeping the skin moist helps to soothe the symptoms of atopic eczema. Some people use wet cloths or bandages on areas of dry and irritated skin. Using soaps or bath preparations which contain moisturizers or oils can be helpful in soothing the skin and protecting against irritating substances. Steroid creams are often used to treat flares of eczema. Antihistamine tablets can also be helpful to reduce itchiness.

Prevention

Identifying and avoiding triggers that cause symptoms to get worse can help in preventing episodes of atopic dermatitis.

Other names for infantile atopic dermatitis

  • Infant eczema
  • Infantile atopic eczema