8 first-line treatment options for atopic dermatitis in infants

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a chronic skin condition that can affect individuals of all ages. In babies, atopic dermatitis is characterized by red, itchy, and inflamed patches of skin. It is a common skin condition in infants, and it typically begins in the first few months of life. Managing atopic dermatitis in infants might be challenging, but early intervention with appropriate treatment is crucial to alleviate discomfort and prevent complications. Here are some first-line treatment options for atopic dermatitis in infants.

Atopic dermatitis in infants

Atopic dermatitis causes red, itchy, and inflamed skin, typically occurring on the face, scalp, neck, and extremities. In infants, the condition often appears as red, scaly patches on the cheeks, chin, and forehead, and may sometimes extend to other parts of the body. While its exact cause remains unclear, genetics, environmental factors, and impaired skin barrier function are believed to contribute to its development.

First line of treatment

Gentle Bathing
Use lukewarm water and not hot water for bathing, and limit baths to 5-10 minutes. Use a mild, fragrance-free soap or cleanser designed for sensitive skin.

Pat Dry
Use a soft towel to gently pat the baby’s skin dry, after a bathing. Rubbing can irritate the skin.

Cotton Clothing
Dress the baby in loose-fitting, breathable, and natural-fiber clothing, such as cotton, to reduce skin irritation.

Avoid Scratching
Keep the baby’s nails short to minimize damage from scratching. Use mittens or cotton socks on their hands to prevent scratching during sleep.

Emollients and moisturizers
The foundation of atopic dermatitis management in infants involves maintaining skin hydration. Parents and caregivers are advised to apply emollients and moisturizers liberally and frequently. Products specifically designed for sensitive infant skin, such as fragrance-free creams or ointments, are recommended. These help lock in moisture and repair the compromised skin barrier.

Topical ointments
For cases of moderate to severe atopic dermatitis in infants, healthcare providers may prescribe topical ointments. These anti-inflammatory creams could effectively reduce redness, itching, and inflammation. However, their use should be closely supervised by a healthcare professional, as prolonged or improper application might lead to skin thinning or other side effects.

Avoid Overheating
Keep the baby’s room at a comfortable temperature and avoid excessive bundling, as overheating can worsen itching.

Avoid Trigger Factors
It’s essential for parents and caregivers to identify and avoid potential triggers for infantile atopic dermatitis. Common triggers include certain soaps, detergents, allergens, and environmental factors like extreme temperatures. Creating a hypoallergenic environment and using gentle, fragrance-free products could minimize flare-ups.

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