Child care: Identifying atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a prevalent variant of eczema. It can affect babies as well as young children but can persist even up to adulthood. A distinct characteristic of atopic dermatitis is its frequent phases of waxing and waning.

Children with this skin condition have signs that rise and fall. As a child gets older, the frequency and seriousness of the symptoms subside until the condition seems to fully settle. Nevertheless, the skin remains dry and easily irritated. Even environmental factors such as exposure to strong soaps or other chemicals can trigger symptoms even among adults.

What are the distinct skin changes?

Those with the skin condition lose excessive moisture from the exterior layer which causes dry skin along with cracking, thus reducing the protective capability of the skin. A child with the skin condition is prone to recurrent infections such as warts, bacterial infections, molluscum contagiousum and herpes simplex.

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Among older children, teenagers and adults, atopic dermatitis generally forms on the face, neck, hands, flexor surfaces and feet where the skin is dry and dense.

What are the signs

It is important to note that the form of rash and its location tends to vary for different age groups.

Infants

Among infants, the rash is generally seen on the face, trunk and the surfaces of the limbs. In most cases, the rash includes vesicles and papules or blisters that drain and crust over.

Young children

Among children, the rash often forms on the surfaces of the limbs but also in the bends of the arm and back part of the knees. The skin is typically dry and rough with scale-like patches.

Older children and adults

Among older children, teenagers and adults, atopic dermatitis generally forms on the face, neck, hands, flexor surfaces and feet where the skin is dry and dense.

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