Your little baby's rash could be Atopic Dermatitis. Understand the ailment.
Atopic dermatitis, also known as infantile eczema is a skin disorder that generally affects infants although most of them outgrow it as they reach adulthood. This condition is characterized by a severe itching sensation along with skin that is dry, scaly and red that later gets inflamed because of the child’s repeated scratching to relieve the itchiness.
Atopic dermatitis mostly begins with a itchy sensation and when scratched, the area turns red, the skin erodes, and there is a breaking out of tiny blisters which break when further scratched, leaving a sticky, moist sensation on the skin.
- Infants generally begin displaying signs of the rash on the cheeks, forehead and scalp; these later erupt on the hands and feet as well.
- In children older than 2 years of age, the rash may occur on other areas such as the inner surfaces of the elbows, knees, feet, hands and on the neck.
- As the condition intensifies, the rashes may appear all over the body.
- In some people, the skin color may change from its normal hue and long-term irritation can lead to thickening of that particular area of skin, giving it a leathery appearance.
No single reason is considered the causative factor for atopic dermatitis although, it is recognized that it runs in families. Families with a history of hay fever, eczema, asthma and other allergic conditions are more likely to manifest this condition. Some of the factors that may trigger atopic dermatitis include:
- Weather that is cold and dry
- Skin contact with irritant chemicals from cosmetics or detergent and soap residues
- Exposure to allergens such as dust mites, pollen, animal hair, mold or something in food such as milk or wheat allergies
- Drying of skin by hot water or rubbing too hard after bathing
- Seasonal temperature differences
The treatment of atopic dermatitis depends on the severity of the condition. Antihistamine tablets help to reduce the intensity of itching. A mild steroid ointment of hydrocortisone may be necessary to get rid of the skin rash and itching. Ceramide-containing creams are sometimes prescribed for skin repair. If there is an infection of the affected skin, it may require an antibiotic course or application of an antibiotic cream.
Understanding the triggers of atopic dermatitis and trying to avoid these is the best way to prevent this condition. A few steps that are useful include:
- Bathing in water that is lukewarm because water that is very hot causes drying out of skin
- Drying skin by patting it dry rather than scrubbing
- Application of moisturizing agents immediately after bathing
- Use of emollient creams at the first sign of dryness to lock moisture into the skin and prevent it from drying
- Washing clothes in mild detergents and rinsing thoroughly to ensure no residues remain
- Using soaps, cosmetics and shampoos that are formulated for dry and sensitive skin types
- Wearing clothes made of cotton rather than synthetic material and wool
- Using soft cotton bedding to reduce friction when sleeping
- Trimming nails regularly to make it more difficult to scratch the itchy area; if necessary, covering the hands with cotton mittens to avoid nails from hurting the itching skin.
- Avoiding foods that seem related to episodes of atopic dermatitis. Babies allergic to milk can be given soya milk.
Although most children outgrow the atopic dermatitis, it can be quite painful while it lasts. Like most chronic skin conditions, prevention of an attack is far more effective than treatment and it makes sense to care well for skin that is sensitive.