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Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Atopic dermatitis is a long-term (chronic) skin condition. It causes dry, itchy skin. It’s a very common condition in babies and children. It first appears around 3 months

The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is not known. But some things are linked to it. They include: 

  • Genes. 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. These include being in winter weather, using hot water for bathing, using soap, and being in dry, hot temperatures.

How can I help my child live with atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis has no cure. But it will usually get better or go away as your child gets older. There may be times when your child has few or no symptoms. And he or she may have times when symptoms get worse. This is called a flare-up. To help prevent flare-ups, make sure your child:         

  • Stays away from triggers. Common triggers include irritants such as wool, soap, or chemicals. Other triggers include allergens such as eggs, dust mites, or pet dander. Stress is also a trigger. 

  • Doesn’t scratch the skin. Try to keep your child from scratching. It can cause symptoms to get worse. It can also cause infection.

  • Always has short fingernails. Trim or file your child’s nails to keep them short and prevent scratching.

  • Takes baths or showers with warm, not hot, water. Air dry or gently dry the skin afterward.

  • Uses moisturizers. Put creams or ointments on after bathing.

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Treatment

  • Corticosteroid cream or ointment. The cream or ointment is put on the skin. This is to help ease itching and swelling. 

  • Antibiotic medicine. Your child may need to take liquid or pills by mouth to treat infection.

  • Antihistamine. Your child may need to take this medicine before sleep to help ease itching and improve sleep. It comes in liquid or pills and is taken by mouth. 

  • Calcineurin inhibitor cream or ointment. Cream or ointment is put on the skin. This is to help ease itching and swelling.

  • Ointments that change the immune system. The provider may prescribe crisaborole cream to put on the skin.

  • Phototherapy (light therapy). Light therapy may be done in the healthcare provider's office or at home.

  • Immunomodulatory medicine. This is a liquid or pill taken by mouth that affects the immune system. It may be used when other treatments don't work well. This medicine may have side effects. Your child will have regular blood tests to check for side effects.

  • Biologic medicines. In severe cases, your child may need a new medicine such as dupilumab. This medicine is injected.

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