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Paediatric Dermatology

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To learn more about the skin of babies and young children, explore responses from dermatologists and allergists to questions submitted by internet users during chat sessions organised by Bioderma.

Corticoid creams are the most effective treatment for eczema flare-ups. Used properly under medical supervision, this treatment effectively treats each flare-up and improves the quality of life of children and parents. You shouldn’t be afraid of these treatments; their poor reputation is often undeserved.

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.

As long as your baby or child doesn’t have dry skin and hasn’t inherited any tendency to develop allergies, it is OK to give him a bath every night. You don’t have to wash his hair every day if he hasn’t gotten sweaty.
However, if he is prone to allergies, bathing him once every other night is enough (in order to protect the delicate skin barrier).

The arrival of the (dry) cold weather and turning on your central heating (which is often insufficiently humidified) can explain this recent dryness. During this period you should use a soap-free cleanser and a good moisturiser (a cold cream or, if that isn’t enough, a product designed for dry atopic skin).

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 anti-inflammatory medications (cream corticoids). Changes in the skin barrier should be treated every day with an emollient. 

An internet user’s question

How often should I wash my baby’s face?

A baby shouldn’t be cleansed too often. Newborns need to be cleansed once a day and infants every two or three days.
Newborns are younger than one month and infants are older than one month.

The skin should be cleansed with mild, soap-free products. Baths should not contain foaming solutions. They should be fairly short and given every two or three days. It is often helpful to apply a moisturising cream every day. Atopic children should not be overdressed because they don’t like heat. At night, it is often helpful to use long pyjamas that cover the skin well. All of this advice and specific medical treatment should be addressed during a visit to your doctor. Lastly, you should avoid diets without medical advice.

For cradle cap, you should use a special shampoo or lotion containing a low level of urea. It is best to ask your pharmacist for advice because there are several products to choose from. After applying the lotion or shampoo, gently remove the crusts. Be sure to use the treatment regularly to keep crusts from forming (once or twice a week).

Before applying any cream I recommend that you use a cleanser formulated for dry skin, don’t let him spend too long in the bath or use too hot water, and make sure you dry his skin gently but thoroughly by patting with a towel. You should apply a moisturising skin restorative cream twice a day if possible.

You can use a cream specially formulated for irritations around the mouth which will protect the skin from the aggressive action of saliva. However, it is unlikely you will be able to resolve this skin problem completely until you stop using the dummy altogether.

1) Follow a suitable cleansing routine with a soap-free cleanser and a short bath or shower in warm water;
2) Use a local anti-inflammatory treatment for the eczema (usually a dermal corticosteroid) prescribed by a paediatric specialist or dermatologist, essential for avoiding any aggravation to your child’s condition and which should be applied in a sufficient quantity and for a sufficient amount of time, according to your doctor’s advice;
3) Apply an emollient over the whole body (other than the eczema plaques) at least once a day, and definitely continue applying every day even after the patches have cleared up in order to prevent any relapse.

It can indeed be difficult sometimes. If the moisturising cream stings your child, you should be sure the treatment is appropriate and that any eczema patches are treated with a specific treatment. If the cream stings without eczema, you should try to change creams. And if the cream doesn’t sting but your child doesn’t like being “basted”, you should try to draw her attention to something else while you are applying the cream. For example, you could invent a game related to the cream and your child could participate. You should always try to apply skin care products in a fun context.

If your baby has dry skin, you should apply a moisturising cream after a bath, or occasionally put baby oil in the bath. Even if your child doesn’t have dry skin, applying a moisturising cream after a bath can create a special time for you to bond with your baby.

Pityriasis alba occurs as areas of dry, white skin. A moisturising cream should be applied to these areas, but even with this treatment the whitest areas (depigmentation) generally last several months. They tend to be more visible after the summer.

An eczema break-out is an inflammation of the skin. So you can use a local anti-inflammatory treatment. Cortisone creams are the most effective form of treatment. They are prescribed by a doctor for a limited period. They are very effective on eczema break-outs and aren’t dangerous for children if used properly.

You can use a water paste or cream specially formulated to protect baby’s nappy area. This redness primarily occurs during diarrhoea episodes. If the redness does not disappear after around ten days, you should ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice. The most effective preventive treatment is changing baby’s nappy often to prevent maceration. You should avoid using cotton nappies, which aggravate maceration.