Atopic dermatitis is a skin condition that affects adults and children alike. Characterized by red, itchy rashes that concentrate on the cheeks, arms, and legs, this uncomfortable chronic ailment is most common in children and generally begins in a child’s first six months.
Though often used synonymously with the term “eczema,” atopic dermatitis is a more specific diagnosis of eczema characterized by severe flare-ups interspersed between periods of improvement. However, as most pediatricians use “eczema” and “atopic dermatitis” interchangeably, they are colloquially considered the same.
Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis
The most common atopic dermatitis symptom is a dry, itchy, and red rash. However, symptoms and their severity can vary depending on age.
Infant atopic dermatitis can cause dry, itchy, or scaly skin, or a rash most typically encountered on the cheeks and more rarely on the scalp. Rashes on the outside of the knees and outside of the elbows are common in infancy. It may also lead to a rash that bubbles and weeps clear fluid depending on the intensity of the flare-up. Atopic dermatitis symptoms vary slightly in older children — they include rashes in elbow and knee creases, scaly skin patches, thick or leathery skin, discolored spots, severe dry skin, and rashes on the face and neck.
These uncomfortable symptoms can, in turn, lead to trouble sleeping or more rarely to skin infections from scratching that form pus-filled bumps or yellow crusts.
How to Treat Atopic Dermatitis
The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown, and there is currently no known cure. However, several effective treatments exist to erase or ease symptoms during flare-ups.
Determining and avoiding triggers, or variables that cause flare-ups, is crucial. While triggers vary from child to child, the most common include:
Can it Get Infected?
The constant itchiness of Eczema in children is particularly hard for parents to manage because excessive scratching can occasionally lead to infection. You can tell skin has become infected when the red patches become extra-red and raw. Infection can also trigger blisters that may ooze or “weep” a clear fluid. These blisters can then get covered in a honey-colored crust. Some parents put mittens or socks on their baby’s hands to avoid harsh scratching.
While infected skin might look bad, it is good to know Eczema is not contagious. Your baby can’t “catch Eczema” nor infect anyone else. Eczema is a condition that definitely can run in the family.
More than half of children with Eczema will outgrow the condition. Those who continue to have flare-ups as adults will discover their rashes take on different characteristics and could go for years without symptoms.
Chemical irritants such as soaps, laundry detergents, disinfectants, and surface cleaners
Extreme heat or cold
Regimens of OTC and prescription medications are also effective treatments. Use medication as prescribed to help treat symptoms during flare-ups. Treatments are most effective when used consistently and as directed.
How to Prevent Atopic Dermatitis
There are several ways to help reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups.
Apply a hydrating, fragrance-free, and dye-free moisturizing ointment or cream twice a day shortly after bathing, and avoid dressing children in rough, tight, or scratchy clothing made from synthetics or wool. Light, lose, and breathable fabrics like cotton are best, and even better when washed in pure, unscented, and undyed soaps. Skip fabric softeners and consider running clothing through an extra rinse cycle.
A gentle shampoo for atopic dermatitis can go a long way towards preventing flare-ups. Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Daily Shampoo & Body Wash is the only eczema shampoo and body wash formulated for children. It is a pure, non-soap cleanser with a low pH, is hypoallergenic, and is fragrance-free, as recommended by pediatric dermatologists. Ingredients are 95% plant-based and selected for their soothing properties, including Oatmeal Extract, Licorice Root Extract, and Aloe Vera.