Atopic dermatitis in babies

22nd July 2020

Dermatitis is a very common skin condition in young children. In fact, there are more cases by the year due to such things as excessive cleaning in the nappy area that reduces the skin's natural defences. We need to distinguish between nappy rash and atopic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis (AD) usually appears on babies at around six months of age. It is an inflammatory skin condition that causes the appearance of red scaly plaques that cause intense itching. Many patients suffer acute episodes when the symptoms worsen and the continuous scratching (inevitable in small children) causes more itching.

It is especially prevalent in babies on the knees, chin and forehead and in older children on the inside of the elbow, behind the knees, on the hands and feet, and on the torso. Dermatitis outbreaks usually disappear at adolescence, although they can reappear in times of stress.

The disease is genetic in origin, although its appearance is also influenced by certain external factors, such as stress, pollution and contact with certain fabrics and allergens such as dust, animal hair, wool, etc. Experts warn that more cases of nappy rash are appearing every year due to excessive hygiene when changing nappies, which strips the skin's natural protective barrier. Too much hygiene is just as bad as too little. That's why you need to avoid products that are too strong.


If you notice that your child has a rash of any kind you should visit your paediatrician, who can diagnose the problem and prescribe the most suitable treatment. Atopic dermatitis is usually treated with a special cream that improves the symptoms. There is no treatment to make the disease disappear completely. Your paediatrician will probably recommend that you adopt a series of hygienic measures:

  • Use a neutral soap and shampoo. You do not need to wash a baby with soap every day – water is sufficient.
  • Add an oil or oatmeal emollient to the water and make sure the bath lasts no longer than 10 minutes.
  • Apply a moisturising cream after the bath.
  • Use soft cotton clothing.
  • Dry your baby gently, without rubbing.
  • Do not wrap your baby up too much to prevent sweating. In winter when the heating is on, use a humidifier so the air is not too dry.
  • If your baby scratches himself a lot, cut his nails regularly and put mittens on him if necessary.


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