Cycle of Care
Some call it eczema. Others call it bungang araw.1 Whatever it is, atopic dermatitis is one of the Philippines’ top 10 skin diseases seen in outpatient clinics, according to the Philippine Dermatologic Society’s accredited institution data.2 Parents whose children have this skin condition will be familiar with the itching, the scratching, and the bleeding. It is common around the joints, but can also affect the face (especially on infant cheeks).3,4
Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema, normally appears before a child’s 5th birthday, and can appear in babies as young as two months.3 This chronic and very pruritic (itchy) skin condition is found in children worldwide.5 Little ones who go through a flare (involving very itchy and inflamed skin) often endure pain and great discomfort.There are four stages to what we call The Cycle of Flares.
The Cycle of Flares
Angry skin: Baby feels uncomfortably itchy and begins to scratch.
Daily moisturization is applied: An appropriate skincare regiment that includes proper bathing, moisturising, and prescribed medication can restore the skin.
Period of calm: During this period of time, baby is not scratching and skin is happy. Some parents believe there is less need for a dedicated skincare routine at this point.
Daily moisturization is neglected: Without proper cleansing and moisturizing, the skin once again begins to flare up, becoming inflamed and itchy. This brings baby back to Stage 1. While certain studies say atopic dermatitis and its flares are still poorly understood, science has given us enough knowledge to help with diagnosing it, treating it, and maintaining skin calm.5
Diagnosing atopic dermatitis
Most recognisable as red, angry skin, atopic dermatitis’ classic features also include:
- Itchy rashes
- Scaly skin
- Crusty patches
Parents will often find this form of eczema around their child’s joint areas (including ankles, elbows, and backs of knees), around the eyes, mouth, neck, and main body (including belly). It is also common for children to scratch their irritated skin until it bleeds, even through clothing.6
Do children ever outgrow this skin condition? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic and lifelong condition. But though it cannot be cured, this skin condition can be controlled with consistent care and appropriate treatment.
Treating atopic dermatitis
The root of flares is dry and itchy skin, so parents must regularly moisturize their child’s skin to keep it fresh and dewy. This includes a suitable daily bath routine with a pH-appropriate mild cleanser, followed by a clinically tested moisturizer. A moisturizer can contain emollients, which are ingredients designed to soften scaly skin. Other treatment options include:
- Colloidal oatmeal: This attracts moisture toskin and locks it in to form a protectivebarrier, giving immediate relief.7
- Topical corticosteroids (steroid creams): These can be natural or synthetic, and work to reduce inflammation and itching.8
- Anti-inflammatory agent: These reduce skin inflammation.9
- Antihistamines: These calm the child and encourage him or her to sleep.6
- Bandages and wet wraps: These include cold compresses to soothe the skin and bandages to stop the child from further picking at broken skin.
Even after an atopic dermatitis flare has been successfully treated, a healthy skin routine is still important for maintenance and prevention of future episodes.
Maintaining skin calm
Parents can do the following to keep their baby’s skin happy:
- Understand what triggers their child’s atopic dermatitis,and avoid whenever possible. This can be dust mites, dander, a dry environment, and even detergent used to wash clothes and bedding.3
- Certain foods may act as allergens in children to trigger a flare. Take note of how your child reacts to different foods. It may be useful to keep a food diary.
- Avoid bath water that is too hot, which may dry the skin out.
- Moisturize the skin right after showering to seal in moisture. Keep to a consistent skincare routine, which helps with maintenance.
- Eczema-torn skin can be a breeding ground for infections, so take note of your child’s skin, and seek treatment when needed.
Timely and accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and maintenance therapies can go a long way in easing the pain of atopic dermatitis for little ones. Results may not appear overnight, but remember that consistency is the key in maintaining your baby’s skin—just keep calm and moisturize!
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