How to Control Itch Caused by Atopic Dermatitis in a Child?

Girl applying cream on her eczema Is your child with atopic dermatitis unable to sleep well throughout the night due to intense itching? Atopic dermatitis is a long-term, chronic skin condition that causes red, itchy and dry skin. It is a common condition among children that usually appears around two-year-old kids and above. Nowadays, even one-year-old babies get eczema on their face and body. The itch and cuts in the skin can lead to bacterial infection in the skin, which may cause thickened skin and other allergy-related skin inflammation. Though the exact cause of this skin condition is not known, the following are some things linked to it:

  • The immune system that isn’t fully developed, may affect how much protection the skin can give
  • Genes, as the skin problems can be passed from parents to a child.
  • External factors such as using hot water for bathing and shower for a long time, certain harmful chemicals in soaps and detergents that come in contact with skin, and weather also play an important role in causing skin irritation. It could be either dry, humid, cold or wet weather that can trigger eczema flare-ups. 

A child with allergies or having a family history with atopic dermatitis are at higher risk for atopic dermatitis. 

The symptoms of atopic dermatitis in children such as rashes tend to flare and go away but then come back again. It can affect any area of the body in children. Usually, the symptoms such as eczema rashes will be found around the neck, face, scalp, arm folds, and behind the knees in babies. While in older children, the symptoms affect the skin on the back of the knees, around the mouth, on the wrists, hands, and ankles, and the sides of the neck.

Atopic dermatitis symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child, and they include the following:

  • Severe itching
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Redness and swelling
  • Pale skin on the face
  • Rough bumps on the upper arms, face, and thighs
  • Thickened skin
  • Skin changes around the mouth, eyes or ears
  • Small, raised bumps if scratched become crusty and leaks fluid
  • Raised, red areas or hives
  • Darkened skin of eyelids or around the eyes

As the symptoms of atopic dermatitis can be like other health conditions, take your kid to your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis. If your child has symptoms that get worse or signs of skin infection with swelling, increased redness, and warmth, call your child’s healthcare provider.

Diagnosis of Atopic Dermatitis in A Child

The healthcare provider will ask you about your child’s symptoms and health history, including allergy symptoms. He/ she may ask you if you or other family members have eczema, asthma, or other nasal allergies such as allergic rhinitis or hay fever. The healthcare provider will examine your kid for the signs of atopic dermatitis. Usually, testing isn’t needed, but a blood test or skin patch tests may be done to check for allergies or other skin conditions in your child.

Treatments to Control Itch Caused by Atopic Dermatitis in Children

Treatment for atopic dermatitis in a child will depend on their symptoms, age and overall general health. It will also depend on how severe their skin condition is. Though there is no cure for atopic dermatitis, the goals of treatment include to ease itching and inflammation, add moisture for the skin and prevent infection:

According to the National Skin Center (NSC), atopic Dermatitis treatment includes:

  • Ensure your kid takes a short bath or shower with a gentle cleanser or body wash and using lukewarm water. You can also make them take bleach baths once in a week, after discussing with your doctor..
  • After a bath, immediately dab with a towel and use a soft towel to dap the skin dry. Immediately top it up with moisturising creams or ointment to lock in the moisture of the skin and prevent it from getting dry.
  • Your child’s healthcare provider may also prescribe topical steroids that are useful to reduce inflammation. Though they are safe if used appropriately, some possible side effects of prolonged use include skin thinning and atrophy.
  • Now the latest treatments for eczema are available with the development of steroid-free topical medications. However, these new treatments are expensive, and your doctor will assess the suitability and appropriate use of these medications.
  • Oral treatments for atopic dermatitis include oral antibiotics when the skin is infected.
  • Usually, antihistamines are prescribed which your child is needed to take before bed. This will help to reduce the itching and improve their sleep. Also, apply a moisturiser if your child showers before bedtime. 
  • In severe cases of atopic dermatitis, doctors may advise other treatment options such as systemic immunomodulators or phototherapy.
  • You can use essential oils in a diffuser which your child is not allergic to so that they will get a good night sleep.
  • Trim or file your child’s fingernails to prevent them from scratching that could worsen their symptoms or even cause infection.
  • Do not use body fitting night clothes for your children. Choose bamboo fibre or cotton pyjamas that are comfortable to wear as this would help to heal any wounds in your kid that is caused by vigorous scratching.
  • Keep your child’s bedroom cool and well ventilated, especially during summer. 
  • Change the bed cover often and wash them with mild detergent if your child has a flaky skin condition, else it would attract dust mites.
  • Keep the room well ventilated or choose a room, which receives ample sunlight in the day time with good ventilation.
  • Service the air conditioner often, to keep the filters dust-free and mould free.


Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition, common among babies and children. A child with allergies, family members with a history of eczema, asthma have a higher chance of having atopic dermatitis. Itching, redness, and dryness are the most common symptoms of eczema condition. The treatment goals include easing the itchy and inflamed skin, by keeping the skin supple and moisturised. This helps to avoid skin dryness that could make your child’s skin itchy, and which leads to infection. It is also vital to ensure that your kid stays away from triggers when it comes to managing their condition. To find more on your child eczema and skin care management tips article, check the blog article.

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