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Atopic Dermatitis: A Common Childhood Skin Rash

Atopic Dermatitis: A Common Childhood Skin RashMost children, even infants, experience a skin rash at some point. This can be troubling to both parent and child since it is often itchy or mildly painful. Fortunately, a typical skin rash usually clears up in a day or two. This is not the case if your child is suffering from childhood atopic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis is the more clinical name for a condition commonly known as eczema. Atopic essentially refers to sensitivity to certain allergens like pollen, animal dander, dust and mold while dermatitis refers to the tendency of the skin to become red and inflamed when contact is made with these allergens.

Childhood atopic dermatitis affects approximately one in 10 children. It nearly always begins before the child’s fifth birthday and may be evident just a few months after birth. Nearly half of small children who develop atopic dermatitis grow out of it by the time they are teenagers. Others may experience flare ups into young adulthood or even for the rest of their lives. Fortunately, it’s possible for people who suffer from this skin rash to learn what triggers their condition to flare up and thus avoid those triggers.

In young patients, childhood atopic dermatitis shows itself as dry, itchy skin that may be very red. Sometimes the skin rash develops small bumps, especially on the face and scalp. While atopic dermatitis seems to cluster around the head it may also appear on the arms, legs and trunk. Open lesions that may be crusted over may also occur, especially if the skin rash does not receive immediate treatment. Some babies with childhood atopic dermatitis will develop scaly, raised patches on the bends in their elbows or behind their knees. These scaly patches may also show up around the ankles and wrists.

Regardless of where the skin rash appears it tends to be very itchy. Young children usually have great difficulty refraining from scratching, and this can make the condition worse as well as causing it to spread to other areas of the body. Excessive scratching can also damage the skin, making it imperative to seek an eczema treatment at the earliest opportunity.

Before an eczema treatment can be applied it’s necessary for a dermatologist to diagnose your child’s condition. It is not always easy to diagnose childhood atopic dermatitis. Other conditions like psoriasis, contact dermatitis and cradle cap have deceptively similar symptoms. Moreover, there is no test that is able to definitively diagnose atopic dermatitis. This means that more than one visit to the dermatologist may be necessary before the diagnosis is considered final.

Your dermatologist will need a relatively complete medical history of your child’s family to assist with making the diagnosis. This is because parents and other near relations who have asthma, hay fever and other allergies may have passed on these conditions and sensitivities to your child, making him more susceptible to develop a condition like childhood atopic dermatitis. It is this hereditary component that makes it impossible to prevent atopic dermatitis. However, it is usually possible to control flare ups.

Dermatologists and allergists can conduct a number of tests to identify allergens that may be causing your child to develop a skin rash. Using methods like scratch tests and patch tests, a physician will attempt to identify substances that irritate your child’s skin. Once triggers for childhood atopic dermatitis have been discovered, it’s possible for you to find ways to prevent your child from encountering them. This means fewer flare ups in the future.

The eczema treatment your dermatologist prescribes will vary depending upon your child’s specific symptoms and the severity of their atopic dermatitis. Usually, a topical eczema treatment is prescribed. This typically consists of a topical corticosteroid in the form of a cream or ointment. This eczema treatment is normally applied twice a day and offers your child significant relief from the symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

Your dermatologist may also prescribe an antihistamine to minimize the itching associated with childhood atopic dermatitis. Antibiotics are occasionally used when a secondary infection is present. Children with atopic dermatitis are particularly susceptible to secondary infections that may be prevented by these oral antibiotics.

Several triggers may cause a flare up of childhood atopic dermatitis. To diminish flare ups of this skin rash it may be necessary to make some lifestyle changes. For instance, your dermatologist might suggest giving your child short, lukewarm baths since hot water tends to leach moisture from the skin. Similarly, you might consider using a cleanser that is dye and fragrance free as well as being formulated for use on sensitive skin. Refrain from rubbing your child’s skin dry after a bath. Patting your child dry with a soft towel is usually a better strategy as is immediately applying a moisturizer. Dress your child in breathable, soft fabrics like cotton to further minimize flare ups of this troublesome skin rash.

Many parents are disturbed by the signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis in their child. This skin rash can be a source of enormous physical and emotional discomfort which is why it is important to seek an appropriate eczema treatment as soon as possible. It’s also crucial to discover your child’s triggers so that they can be avoided as much as possible. Fortunately, these steps are much easier to take under the guidance of a board-certified dermatologist. Schedule an appointment today to find the right eczema treatment for your child.



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