Atopic Dermatitis is a non-contagious, extremely common skin disease that affects up to 10-20% of children globally and 2-5% of adults. It is a chronic condition, meaning symptoms can be long-lasting, although babies and children can ‘grow out’ of the symptoms. Typically sufferers experience two phases of the disease – a non-active (“interval”) phase and a more acute active (“flare-up”) phase. For both phases, a good skin care can help alleviate the discomfort.
Atopic Dermatitis (or Atopic Eczema) is an increasingly common skin disease that affects adults, children and babies, of all skin colours, globally. Children are most prone with 90% of sufferers developing Atopic Dermatitis before the age of five and many children do grow out of the disease. It rarely starts in adulthood.
Symptoms appear on the scalp (cradle cap), face and body although the appearance and areas affected differ between babies, children and adults:
Atopic Dermatitis typically has two “phases”. During an inactive (or “interval”) phase skin is very dry, irritable and flaky and needs to be moisturised on a daily basis. Active phases (or “flare-ups”) are more demanding and need to be treated with topical medications to calm inflamed skin and alleviate itching.
The disease can be very distressing, not just for the affected children but for their parents too as it can be difficult to stop children from scratching. Children - babies and toddlers in particular - sometimes rub their bodies against their bed clothes, carpets or other surfaces to remove the itch and this can lead to skin infection. This can result in problems with sleep, causing further stress for parents.
That said, effective treatment and good skin care can alleviate much of the discomfort.
They have moderate to intense itching.
Their skin is inflamed and sore.
Their skin is weeping fluid and maybe even bleeding.
The application of moisturiser alleviates their symptoms.
They are managing to deal with their symptoms without scratching.
Their skin is intact and only slightly flaky.
If you are unsure about your child’s symptoms seek the advice of a dermatologist.
Read more about children’s skin.
Dermatologists have identified several causative and contributory factors, such as:
Sufferers are known to have a deficiency of natural moisturising factors (such as urea and amino acids) and disturbance of the epidermal lipid metabolism. This explains why their skin is more likely to be dry with a disturbed barrier function.
Flare-ups often develop in an Atopic Skin Cycle (see illustration). This is a circle of cause and effect that begins when a child scratches an itch and disturbs their already fragile skin barrier. The exposed layers then become an ideal breeding ground for a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. They multiply and infect the skin. The infection causes inflammation, which causes itching, and the cycle starts all over again.
Dermatological treatments help to break the Atopic Skin Cycle.
Triggers vary from person to person so it can be useful to keep a diary which monitors external factors and their influence on a child’s skin condition. These factors could include:
Although there is still no known cure for Atopic Dermatitis, all medical therapies recommend consistent application of moisturiser to relieve skin dryness, irritation and itch and reduce emotional stress for both the child and parents.
During an interval phase it is vital to maintain a daily skin care routine, using emollients.
Emollients – also known as moisturisers – include creams, lotions and face creams, which can be used together with bath additives and shower oils to maintain skin’s hydration. Supple skin is less itchy so less prone to scratching and irritation.
Key ingredients in the formulas of emollients can include:
When flare-ups do occur it is important to supplement emollients with a doctor`s prescription of active care treatments such as medicated creams. These topical creams usually contain corticosteroids.
Corticosteroids are effective and fast-acting ingredients which alleviate the itching of flare-ups almost instantly. However, their application has to be limited according to doctor`s advice.
Eucerin’s AtoControl Acute Care Cream has skin caring properties that have been clinically proven to significantly improve the skin‘s appearance during flare-up phases. AtoControl Acute Care Cream is not a pharmaceutical product and is not meant to replace one.
Eucerin AtoControl Acute Care Cream is useful when out and about. It can be used on children over the age of three years.