By Dr. Nivedita Dadu, Dermatology
Atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema, refers to a skin disorder in infants and children. The condition may last until the child grows to become an adult. An estimated 10-20% of all infants suffer from atopic dermatitis. Of these, only half improve as they grow and develop between ages 5-15. Approximately 60% of kids may live with some form of eczema that lasts a lifetime.
Causes of Atopic Dermatitis in Infants -
Infants with atopic dermatitis usually have a ‘sensitive skin’ that may easily get irritated due to heat, sweating, soaps and cleansers, and rough clothing. These kids may be allergic to certain types of food, dust mites, animals – things or objects that may trigger symptoms related to eczema.
Many times, atopic dermatitis may be caused due to the following –
- Genes – If eczema and allergies run in the family
- Weak immune system – A weak immune system in children affects the skin’s protective sheath
- External Factors – Extreme weather conditions, such as hot temperature and winter when the skin lacks moisture
How does eczema in children appear to look like?
Signs and symptoms of eczema start showing up during the first few months after birth, usually 3-6 months. You may notice crusty, red patches on your kid’s skin. With age, the distribution of eczema may change. In young children and infants, the signs may appear on the knees, face, and outside of the elbows. Each child experiences symptoms differently. Nevertheless, the common symptoms may include –
- Scaly, dry skin
- Small bumps that weep and open when scratched
- Swelling and redness of the skin
- Thickening of the skin
With repetitive scratching, the skin may develop sores or infection, blisters, and oozing. Sometimes, if the infant scratches for weeks and months, the skin may appear to become leathery, rough, and dark in colour.
Eczema in infants requires attention right from the initial years. If you observe the above symptoms in your child after a couple of months after birth, do not hesitate to visit a skin specialist. With proper measures and treatment, your child may be able to recover from atopic dermatitis in adulthood.