What is Atopic Dermatitis?
Skin of patients with atopic dermatitis does not regulate body temperature normally. There may be abnormal sweating and abnormal blood vessel responses–the opening and closing of these vessels in the skin. This means that your child may not react as you would expect with changes in room temperature. He or she may be “cold natured” or “hot natured”. They may sweat very little. Since intact skin is also important in holding body fluid, your child may lose extra fluid (simply by evaporation) when he is severely affected. You might note increased drinking of fluids. These problems are not dangerous for your child if appropriate therapy is used to clear up the skin lesions.
At present, eczema can not be cured, but it can usually be managed so that your child can play and live comfortably. The condition is often “outgrown” though not by age 2-3 as is often thought. Statistics suggest that approximately 50% of children will completely lose their eczema, and 40% will have only minor, localized or occasional skin lesions. the remaining 10%, however will continue to have a major problem with eczema in adulthood.
The location of the rash on your child may change with age. In infants it is located mostly on the face, abdomen, and parts of the arms and legs where the baby rubs on the bed. By childhood, typical problem areas are wrists, hands, feet, ankles and creases of knees and elbows. In adolescents and adults who have eczema, it is often found in creases at knees/elbows, around the eyes and on the hands and feet.
Eczema may also be helped by avoiding factors that provoke the itching. One in three children with atopic dermatitis has a food allergy. Skin testing may be done to help identify these. Keeping your child cool may be useful. Use air conditioning in the summertime and heat in the winter. Avoid extreme temperature changes. Some physicians recommend humidifiers as long as they can be cleaned weekly to prevent mold growth (in Florida the usual humidity is high, so adding more often just contributes to more mold and dust mite growth in the house). Animal avoidance can help. Dust and dust mite contact are often aggravating factors: dust precautions are important. Finally, avoid people with cold sores and chickenpox.
See the Daily Skin Care guide used at Windom Allergy to make sure you’re doing the right things to manage your child’s eczema.