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Irritated, Itchy, Atopic Skin

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To learn more about irritated, itchy skin and atopic skin, explore responses from dermatologists and allergists to questions submitted by internet users during chat sessions organised by Bioderma.

You need to use cleansing products that respect their skin barrier and moisturise their skin regularly (once or twice a day) with a suitable emollient product as a preventative measure for several months after they are born. You should also pay attention to their environment (avoid exposure to allergens such as dust that contains mites or animal hair; avoid dry or overheated environments; opt for cotton fabric over synthetic; and avoid exposure to sun and cold).

Obviously, your daughter has atopic skin. You should see a dermatologist to treat it specifically. In the meantime, avoid long baths, use cleansing oils and moisturise her skin once or twice a day with lipid-enriched balms tailored to the atopic skin of babies, which are sold in pharmacies.

Hard water makes dry skin worse and therefore affects the skin barrier which allows allergens from the environment to penetrate the skin and trigger outbreaks of eczema in atopic children.

Sensitive skin is skin that doesn’t tolerate local treatments, no matter what they are, and often has burning sensations or discomfort. You can have sensitive skin with atopy as well as with many other dermatological conditions.

Prevention is used for “at-risk” children, namely children with at least one allergy-prone parent. In these cases, for example, we know that it is best to avoid contact with cats during the first few weeks. As regards treatment, outbreaks of eczema should be treated as early as possible with topical anti-inflammatory steroids. Changes in the skin barrier should be treated every day with an emollient.

Food allergies sometimes aggravate eczema. But this is rare and should be confirmed through appropriate tests carried out by a doctor. You may need to try an elimination diet to determine the responsible food allergen. However, in the vast majority of cases there are no particular food recommendations for a five-year-old atopic child.

It’s best to use a moisturising cream once a day for atopic children but it’s not a requirement. In fact, some children have skin that isn’t as dry and require cream less often. And moisturising cream is not a treatment for red patches. For these red patches, you should use an anti-inflammatory treatment prescribed by your doctor.

The swimming pool isn’t at all contraindicated for atopic skin. However, you should avoid it during eczema break-outs. Here’s some advice: use a moisturising cream or a barrier cream before swimming, wash with a soap-free gel after swimming, and apply a moisturising cream again after showering.

There are several factors that can cause atopic eczema. First of all, there is a genetic predisposition that makes the skin drier and less “impermeable” than the skin of children without eczema. The other factors that damage genetically-fragile skin are environmental. These factors can include using products with high detergent content on skin, developing allergies to substances like the products in some cosmetics, experiencing allergies to certain foods, etc. So atopic eczema is not an allergic condition but rather a genetic condition. Therefore, with at-risk children (children with a family history of atopic eczema), you should frequently moisturise their skin to try to prevent the appearance of eczema.

Atopy corresponds to a specific genetic predisposition that may express itself in children in various ways such as food allergies, atopic eczema, hay fever or asthma. There are other forms of eczema that are not atopic. For example, contact eczema is an allergy that can occur in adults unrelated to any atopy.