Identifying and treating atopic dermatitis in children

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is the most common dermatological condition in kids under ten. This chronic condition affects over 10% of children, and causes dry and itchy skin. Here’s what you need to know:

What causes atopic dermatitis in children?
The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is not known, but there are a few facts that have been linked to it, such as:

  • Genetics. This skin problem can be passed on from parents to a child.
  • Immune system. An immune system that isn’t fully developed may affect how much protection the skin can give.
  • External factors. For example, exposure to winter weather and hot water, use of certain soaps, and dry, hot temperatures.

What are common symptoms?
Generally, symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Redness and swelling
  • Rash
  • Thickened, dry, scaly skin
  • Bumps on the face, upper arms, and thighs

What treatments are available?
While there is no cure for atopic dermatitis, a healthcare provider may prescribe a number of treatments based on a child’s symptoms, age, and general health, including:

  • Corticosteroid cream or ointment
  • Antibiotics
  • Anthihistamine
  • Calcineurin inhibitor or Phosphodiesterase Inhibitor cream or ointment
  • Phototherapy (light therapy)
  • Immunomodulatory medicine
  • Biologic medicines

A provider may also recommend more holistic treatments, like warm baths with specific cleansers or keeping fingernails short to help prevent scratching.

What triggers should patients be mindful of?
Some triggers that could cause or worsen a flare up of atopic dermatitis include dry skin, irritants, stress, allergies, and heat/sweating.

If you believe that your child is showing symptoms of atopic dermatitis, be sure to call your doctor.

This blog was written by Shirley M. Pérez, Pharm.D., Senior Pharmacist, Clinical Services at Abarca.

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