New parents have a lot to worry about, and since everything is so new, anything can be a cause for concern. One common condition in newborns is atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema, and it certainly is one of those things that distresses most parents.
Atopic dermatitis generally runs in families, or is hereditary. It is characterized by rough, red, dry, flaky patches of skin. In newborns these rough patches are most likely to be found on the belly, arms and legs, and the neck and face. The dry patches may look crusty, and they may even weep. Itchiness is the most common complaint. Atopic dermatitis is not contagious, and your child will likely outgrow it by the time he is 5 years of age, though that is little comfort to a parent when they are in the thick of it with a newborn.
Caring for atopic dermatitis is fairly easy, but very important. Because your newborns skin is so dry, bathing the baby should be done every two to three days, and then with a very mild soap, which is a good idea for any newborn. Good, mild, soaps to use are Aveeno soap, Cetaphil, and Dove, and then use the soap only in the really dirty areas, like the bottom. Once you have bathed your baby, gently pat him dry and then it is on to providing moisture.
Cover your baby’s dry patches with a good, thick, lotion or cream. Eucerin and Aquaphor are two very good choices. Apply these types of moisturizers right after a bath, and again throughout the day as needed, usually around five times a day. So, you will be doing a lot of moisturizing, and not a lot of bathing. These two steps, gentle, infrequent baths, and applications of one of the aforementioned creams will a lotto treat atopic dermatitis.
There are a few things that you need to be on the lookout for with your newborn. The rough patches are so dry that they are prone to cracking, and in turn, this leads the affected areas to be more susceptible to infections. If you notice a patch that is cracked, and become quite reddened, and weepy, check with your doctor, as this could mean an infection. A child with an infection may even run a fever. If an infection is present, and antibiotic will be prescribed.
Some infants and children will require a stronger topical treatment for atopic dermatitis to decrease the swelling and inflammation. This will usually mean the use of a topical steroid cream that your doctor will prescribe. Some babies may be able to be treated with a 1% hydrocortisone cream that you can buy at a drug store, but most will need a prescription strength cream to take the angry out of itchy, ouchy skin condition.
While it is tough to see your little one with atopic dermtitis, and know that your baby might be uncomfortable, following the care advice given above, and your baby’s doctors recommendations will give you the comfort of knowing that you are doing everything that you can. All of that and a lot of love will see you through acute dermatitis, and most everything else that will be thrown your way.