Moisturisers for Atopic Dermatitis in children

Children with atopic dermatitis or eczema have a damaged skin barrier. This makes their skin more sensitive to external factors like allergens, irritants and bacteria. A damaged skin is also unable to retain moisture leading to a chronic dry and itchy skin. This cycle predisposes the skin to get atopic eczema flares and get worse. Keeping your child’s skin moisture intact is the cornerstone of management of children with atopic dermatitis or eczema. In this article we shall discuss the optimal use of moisturisers in children with atopic dermatitis or eczema.

Moisturisers for Atopic Dermatitis in children

So, it’s important to understand how and when to properly moisturize and which products are best to use when you have eczema.

How do moisturizers work?
Overall, moisturizers help protect the outermost layer of skin (stratum corneum) by locking in water leading to increase in hydration. Moisturizers create a barrier against allergens/triggers/microbes thereby protecting the skin. Some moisturizers also help to restore the intercellular lipid bilayer which in addition help to absorb, retain and redistribute water.

What are the various forms of moisturizers available for treatment of atopic dermatitis or eczema in children?
Moisturizers could be classified as humectants, occlusives and emollients. Most products contain a combination of two or three types. Humectants attract and bind water from deeper layers to the stratum corneum. The most commonly used humectants are urea, glycerine and hyaluronic acid. Occlusives work by forming a hydrophobic layer and reduce transepidermal water loss. Commonly used occlusives are lanolin, mineral oils, petroleum jelly etc. Emollients smoothen the skin by filling cracks in the skin. Commonly used emollients are collagen, shea butter, isopropyl palmitate etc.

Why is it so important to moisturize after a bath or shower?
Daily bathing is recommended for all children with atopic dermatitis or eczema. Bathing removes dirt and bacteria, in addition to providing a feeling of freshness to the child. A soaking bath or a shower for 3-5 minutes with lukewarm water is optimal. It is important to use a gentle cleanser or soap or a body wash with a neutral pH. Vigorous rubbing with a towel needs to be avoided, instead a gentle dabbing is recommended. It is important to apply a thick layer of moisturizer all over the child’s body within 3 minutes of bathing or showering. This is extremely important so as to seal or “lock in” moisture and protect the skin barrier.

Tips on how to apply a moisturizer!!

Some things to remember when moisturizing your child’s skin:

  • Prevent contamination of the moisturizer container by using a clean spoon rather than your hands.
  • Soften the moisturizer by rubbing it between your palms and then apply it to child’s body
  • Apply the moisturizer in downward strokes. Rubbing in of the moisturizer by stroking up and down, or in circles should be avoided.
  • Moisturize a child's hands every time after hand washing.

In case your child is having atopic dermatitis or eczema you need to meet an allergy specialist for proper management and care.

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