Atopic Dermatitis In Babies And Toddlers - What is it?

by Chirin Khawatmi on March 18, 2019

Not sure what those itchy red, irritated patches are on your baby’s skin? It’s common and very treatable. Your doctor has the answer to many such kind of questions arising in your mind.

To my lovely new mums, these chronic itchy red patches are called Atopic Dermatitis (AD). It may occur in infants between 3 to 6 months of age. According to a study approximately 60% of cases of AD develop in the first years of life.

My name is Huma, I am a doctor by profession and NMC Dubai licensed blogger. I am a Dubai resident and currently a proud stay at home mom to a son turning 3 this year. My son Ahmed has suffered from atopic skin from the age of 6 months so I will mainly focus this blog on infants and toddlers up to age two years.


AD is a chronic skin disease characterized by dry itchy skin. It is a type of inflammation of the skin with swollen, cracked and itchy skin. Many children develop asthma or hay fever if not treated on time.

  • Rash on the scalp (do not confuse with cradle cap) or face, especially cheeks or chin.
  • Dry skin
  • Significant itching
  • Oozing of red patches in severe cases
  • Irritants; harsh soaps, lotions with fragrance, certain fabrics, or dust
  • Allergens; some foods, preservatives or food colors, pet, dust mites, molds or pollen.
  • Extreme weather conditions
  • Excessive saliva or drooling.
  • Stress
  • Sweat
  • Dysfunction in immune system
  • Dysfunction in skin barrier

If not diagnosed on time or mistreated different complications can arise in infants and toddlers. The primary risk factor for atopic dermatitis is having a personal or family history of eczema, allergies hay fever or asthma.

Red rash developing on the chin of baby, first symptom of atopic dermatitis.

First, we need to know that it is not ‘contagious’. You cannot catch the disease or pass it on to others by any means. Some positive and healthy changes in your lifestyle will help you deal better with AD.

  • Only use cotton clothing (nylon and wool can irritate the skin more)
  • Always wash new baby clothes to remove chemicals used during production of clothing. I would recommend using Dapple Baby Laundry Detergent strips easily available at Mama’s Box. The best thing about this detergent formula is that it is free of sls, parabens, formaldehydes and fragrance which is a big no for atopic dermatitis. A safe Hypoallergenic formula for the little ones.
  • Keep room temperature cool not cold to avoid sweating that can trigger skin irritation. Avoid taking your baby out in hot humid weather of UAE especially from the months of June till September.
  • Avoid long baths for your baby, limit the time to only about 10 mins and use warm water to avoid skins natural moisturizers from being stripped away.
  • Pat dry baby’s skin after shower and use moisturizers that contain ceramide like cetaphil restoderm lotion and body wash to retain the skin’s moisture barrier. Ceramides are a family of waxy lipid molecules that alleviate itch and dryness as it absorbs quickly to replenish skin’s natural oils. Use moisturizing lotions twice daily.
  • Avoid allergens like pet fur, house mites, pollen, cow’s milk.
  • To my breast-feeding moms, if your child is suffering from atopic skin and you are unable to find a cure then the possibilities are that you need to check your diet. Keep a diary of foods, drinks to see if any coincide with the change in symptoms. Try to avoid egg, preservatives, fizzy drinks, honey and food items containing food colors.

Written by Dr. Huma Shamim          

Follow Dr. Huma on Instagram: @dr.huma1987

1 comment
by Mahvish Shamim on March 21, 2019

Very well written thank you for sharing such important information. Keep up the good work


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