Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease.
Daily atopic eczema
It is the most common chronic disease found in infants and young children.
It is even more prevalent if there is a family history of the disease.
What are the symptoms?
Dry skin (atopic xerosis), red plaques* and itching
Cheeks, forehead, torso, limbs, elbow folds, back of the knees, etc.
* Red plaques appear during flare-ups which occur at relatively close intervals. Red plaques, which sometimes ooze and combined with skin dryness cause uncomfortable itching.
Disease characteristics according to age
Before age 1
Atopic eczema affects fleshy areas of the body such as the cheeks and forehead, as well as the arms and stomach. Infantile atopic eczema develops in flare-ups, which most often occur during periods of teething and throat infections.
After age 1
The eczema plaques will disappear from the "fleshy" parts of the body and appear in the skin folds (elbows, legs) or behind the ears.
Between ages 3-4 years
Eczema will predominantly affect the skin folds, but also the hands and face, around the mouth and on the eyelids. Skin dryness remains a constant symptom.
Between ages 5-6 years
Severe eczema flare-ups will no longer occur, however, in most cases, the child will still have very dry skin.
If the dermatitis persists, the face, neck and hands are most commonly affected.
A need to scratch which creates
a vicious cycle
How can atopic eczema* be soothed?
Local, anti-inflammatory medicinal treatments (topical corticosteroids)
in the case of flare-ups
A relaxing massage using emollients
For a gentle and soothing moment
To restore the skin's barrier function and skin comfort
Where do I have to apply the emollient?
According to your skin condition, your doctor could advice you different applications.
In general, the dermatologists of Avene Dermatological Laboratories advice to apply the local, anti-inflammatory treatments on red plaques during flare-ups and the emollient care on the rest of the body between flare-ups.
* The advice given on this page is not intended to replace advice from your physician.
** Emollients have a hydrating and nourishing action. Apply the emollient outside of the areas affected by atopic eczema flare-ups
Emollient massage, a ritual for well-being and bonding between parents and children
The lower limbs
Smooth from the ankle to the top of the thigh, in large circular motions.
Smooth from the wrist to the armpit without forgetting the hollow of the elbow.
Place the child’s hand on your fingers, massage it by alternating your thumbs. Massage the back of the hand from the tip of each finger, towards the wrist.
Place your hands flat against the base of the stomach. Make large circular motions, going up towards the neck with your hands parallel. At the neck, move your hands down along the length of the shoulders in an encircling motion.
The nape of the neck
Make circular motions, if necessary going all the way up to the ears and massaging them with your fingertips. Don’t forget the junction between the earlobe and the cheek.
Seat the child and place your hands at the base of the back. Make circular motions, going up towards the nape of the neck.
Dab dots of cream all over the face. Smooth out from the center to the outside of the face without neglecting the neck. If necessary, apply the emollient cream on the eyelids, mouth and the corners of the mouth with your fingertips.
The massage is done by alternating your thumbs. Massage the sole of the foot as well as each toe with your thumbs, then massage the top of the foot, going up to the ankle.
A soothing moment with mom or dad.
Repeat the experience even when the itching sensation subsides, to reduce and space out eczema flare-ups.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
« Can stress influence the onset of atopic eczema?»
Yes, like all chronic conditions, stress can influence the symptoms. In addition, the child may think that atopic eczema is contagious. Reassure them, it isn’t contagious and can disappear as they grow up!
« Can I bathe my child if he/she has atopic eczema? »
Yes. A bath has many advantages: it cleanses, relaxes and prepares for the application of ointments. However, don’t give a bath in a bath tub everyday as water dries out the skin. Showers are preferrable.
« Is atopic eczema caused by diet? »
Mostly no. Sometimes children are intolerant to certain foods that aggravate their atopic eczema.Your doctor will determine if they are allergic to any food. Depending on the results, a special diet may be considered.
« Does breastfeeding protect my child from atopic eczema? »
It’s possible, but not certain. Moms from atopic families are generally advised to breastfeed as long as possible and to delay introducing a varied diet until the age of 6 months. Though these precautions reduce the risk of atopic eczema, they don’t completely eliminate it.
« Will my child have asthma? »
Atopic eczema is part of what is called an atopic profile (familial predisposition to atopic eczema, hay fever, asthma, conjunctivitis). The child may be prone to one of these conditions. It is advisable to avoid an environment that is too allergenic (dust, feathers, pet hair, etc.).