Atopic dermatitis is basically eczema in children and babies. That probably affects about 10 to 20% of the population. That commonly presents with a baby with a red, itchy, scaly rash typically in the flexural folds, so over here and behind the knees. This can be quite a problem for the patient and the family, because the baby is often up all night itching and scratching and crying.
So there are certain fundamental aspects of treating pediatric-atopic dermatitis, and a lot of these go over to treating all eczema and dermatitis. But basically with these patients, you want to keep the showers or the baths really short. Two or three minutes, get in, get out. You want to use lukewarm water, not super hot, not super cold. You want to use a gentle soap, such as Cetaphil or CeraVe, and when you get out, you want to pat yourself dry. You don’t want to rub with the towel because it strips the skin barrier. And then you want to take your thick blend emollients moisturizer and seal that water back in. We usually recommend things such as Cetaphil, or CeraVe, or Eucerin, or even Aquaphor.
So all of those principles are very important for atopic dermatitis, but really for all forms of eczema. For patients that are flaring, we’ll often use again the topical corticosteriod creams. And again these are safe in babies and children if you’re picking the right dose as recommended by a dermatologist and following the directions. Sometimes we use oral antihistamines, or topical, or prescription anti-H agents to kind of break that itch-scratch cycle.
Antibiotics often play a role in our treatment of eczema. As I mentioned, eczema is a very itchy condition, and sometimes with this itching and scratching people with eczema are prone to secondary staph infections. So a lot of times, when eczema is flaring and is not necessarily responding to the treatments I have gone through already, we’ll often add an oral antibiotic to kind of treat the staph that’s flaring up the eczema.