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Dermatology

What is Atopic Dermatitis?

Pediatric atopic dermatitis is a common skin issue affecting children. Not only can this skin condition be painful, but it can also be embarrassing for many children. Fortunately, it’s a treatable issue and finding a solution is as simple as searching “pediatric dermatologist NYC.”

In this article, you’ll also learn the following:

  • Symptoms of atopic dermatitis 
  • Risk factors for atopic dermatitis 
  • How to treat atopic dermatitis 
  • How to find a pediatric dermatologist to help

About Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis refers to a group of skin conditions that can affect children. It describes inflammation of the skin that may be painful or itchy. It affects about 13% of children in the U.S. Usually, it’s long-lasting as well.

This skin problem may occur along with hay fever or asthma. More than 50% of young kids with atopic dermatitis develop hay fever or asthma by the time they reach 13 years old.

Atopic dermatitis can occur at any age, but children are more likely to suffer from it than adults. Pediatric atopic dermatitis tends to arise before the age of six. A majority of children develop it as an infant in the first six months of life.  

Most children grow out of atopic dermatitis. In fact, it’s estimated that around 66% of children won’t suffer from it throughout their entire childhood. Usually, it resolves itself before the age of five or six. However, even if a child doesn’t have flare-ups anymore though, it’s possible that the condition will recur in adulthood.

Atopic Dermatitis: Pediatric Dermatologist

Atopic Dermatitis Symptoms

When you discover the search results for “pediatric dermatologist NYC,“ you’ll find numerous practitioners who know firsthand that symptoms of pediatric atopic dermatitis can vary from child to child. Some children experience itching, which can worsen at night. After the initial itching, irritation may become painful.

The rash may look dry. It’s possible for red to grayish-brown patches to occur. In particular, the following areas are mostly affected:

  • Legs
  • Chest
  • Neck
  • Ankles
  • Wrists
  • Bend of the elbow and knees
  • Eyelids

Other signs of atopic dermatitis include:

  • Red, raised bumps that may leak fluid and crust
  • Raw skin
  • Swollen skin
  • Thick, cracked skin

Causes of Atopic Dermatitis

Skin usually retains moisture. Its job is to protect against allergens, irritants, and bacteria. Children who have pediatric atopic dermatitis have a genetic variation, which reduces the skin’s ability to protect. As a result, their skin is more likely to respond to irritants, allergens, and environmental factors. Additionally, pediatric atopic dermatitis may flare up due to food allergies.

Risk Factors for Atopic Dermatitis

When you’re searching “pediatric dermatologist NYC” or “pediatric atopic dermatitis” on the web, you may be looking to learn more about what causes atopic dermatitis. Generally, the most common reason some children develop atopic dermatitis is genetics. Teens may redevelop it if they experienced it during childhood. Having allergies or asthma can increase a child’s risk, as well.

Diagnosing Atopic Dermatitis

The first portion of your child’s exam will consist of gathering information about their medical history. This gives the dermatologist insight into other possible causes of skin inflammation and helps them to identify genetic factors.

Typically, many of the doctors listed when you search “pediatric dermatologist NYC” will diagnose the condition in a visual examination only.

Diagnosing this skin condition doesn’t require any further laboratory testing. However, the dermatologist may use a patch allergy test or other similar tests to rule out other possible causes for the rash.

During the diagnostic portion of the exam, you should inform the dermatologist if you suspect a food allergy may be causing your child’s dermatitis. This gives the dermatologist the opportunity to do food allergy testing to identify the allergen if there is one.

Treating Atopic Dermatitis

Currently, no cure for pediatric atopic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis in general exist. Fortunately, your child doesn’t have to suffer. If you are searching for a solution to pediatric dermatitis, NYC is an excellent place to find treatment. Medications, certain therapies, and self-care measures may help control your child’s symptoms.

Self-Care

First and foremost, the dermatologist will recommend self-care measures you can take at home to relieve discomfort.

For instance, you will want to avoid using harsh soaps, especially those with certain chemicals, on your kid’s skin. A practitioner stresses the importance of routinely and thoroughly and cleaning your child’s skin with warm, not hot water. You’ll also receive information on the importance of drying your child’s skin completely after every shower or bath.

Additionally, the dermatologist will generally recommend moisturizing your child’s skin using a dye- and fragrance-free lotion.

You’ll be educated about how to prevent flare-ups by avoiding certain substances like soaps with fragrance and dye and other triggers. If you suspect food is triggering the dermatitis flares, the practitioner can test your child and determine the food or foods they will want to avoid.

A dermatologist may recommend using a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home. When the air is hot and dry, it can worsen your child’s symptoms, such as itching or flaking. You may want to use a portable humidifier or one that attaches directly to your furnace.

Corticosteroids

One option a practitioner may prescribe for your child is a corticosteroid ointment or cream. This can relieve itching and swell in many cases. 

Through several mechanisms, corticosteroids prohibit a chemical reaction in the body that causes inflammation. Although your child’s body naturally produces hormones from the adrenal gland, when the amount increases, the body suppresses inflammation.

Prednisone is one example of a corticosteroid that is used for pediatric atopic dermatitis. Different strengths of prednisone and other corticosteroids are available depending on the severity of your child’s condition. 

It’s vital to only use a corticosteroid as prescribed because it can cause your little one’s skin to thin. When used correctly, however, prednisone and other corticosteroids aren’t known to cause any damage to the skin, according to a study conducted in 2011.

Atopic Dermatitis: Finding a Pediatric Dermatologist

Calcineurin Inhibitors

Calcineurin inhibitors are medications that hinder calcineurin’s action. Calcineurin is an enzyme in your child’s body that activates the T-lymphocytes, or T-cells, in their immune system. T-cells, a variety of white blood cells, play a key role in the child’s immunity.

This medication may be used on your child’s face and eyelids, two areas that corticosteroids aren’t safe. Generally, a dermatologist prescribes these as a last resort when other medications have failed. 

Calcineurin inhibitors are prescribed only for children ages two and older. Children who have immune issues may not use this particular drug. Typically, you can only use calcineurin inhibitors on your child’s skin for short periods of time, but it may be used again provided there are intermittent breaks in between.

This particular topical makes your child’s skin more sensitive to sunlight. Therefore, a good practitioner will educate you on the proper sunlight-protection for your child.

Immunosuppressants

Immunosuppressants are another treatment option a dermatologist may prescribe for atopic pediatric dermatitis. These drugs suppress the immune system, meaning it doesn’t respond and cause dermatitis flare-ups.

The four most common drugs in this classification include:

  • Mycophenolate
  • Azathioprine
  • Methotrexate
  • Cyclosporine

In addition to treating dermatitis, mycophenolate is a medication that’s also given to kidney transplant patients to reduce their risk of their body rejecting the donor’s kidney. It has a long history of use, dating back to the late 1800s.

Cyclosporine is a multi-purpose drug given to prevent organ transplant rejection. It’s also a treatment for severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriasis. This drug originated in 1983. It gained recognition from the World Health Organization as essential medication.

Though azathioprine is beneficial to patients with dermatitis, it’s also a medication doctor prescribe to organ transplant patients and also to those with RA. Azathioprine was developed in 1957. Although it started as a chemotherapy drug, researchers later found it was more beneficial for patients with other conditions, such as atopic dermatitis.

Methotrexate has a place in dermatology but is also given to patients with RA. It entered the marketing in the 1950s and has grown in popularity throughout the years.

Phototherapy

Phototherapy uses light energy to reduce itchiness associated with atopic dermatitis. Additionally, it may help with inflammation while increasing your child’s vitamin D-production and enhancing their immune system.

The most common form of phototherapy uses ultraviolet B (UVB) light, which is the light that has the greatest impact on dermatitis.

Phototherapy is safe to use on the entire body, so dermatologists use it for widespread dermatitis. However, it may be used for localized dermatitis as well.

This particular treatment has shown to have a high success rate. According to the National Eczema Association, around 70% of patients with dermatitis see an improvement when using phototherapy. For some patients, phototherapy puts skin problems in remission for prolonged periods of time, even after treatments are over.

Antibiotic Ointment

For children who have an infection that’s leading to their skin inflammation, an antibiotic ointment can target the root of the problem.

Dupilumab

Dupilumab is one of the newer medications on the market for atopic dermatitis. Dermatologists prescribe it to patients with moderate to severe dermatitis. It’s an injectable medication given subcutaneously (under the skin) to patients with atopic dermatitis. It’s also used to treat asthma and other conditions.

Generally, dupilumab is given when other medications haven’t improved your child’s condition.

Also known by the brand name DUPIXENT, the drug prohibits two proteins (interleukin-4 and interleukin-3) from signaling. These proteins can contribute to inflammation caused by atopic dermatitis.

Currently, this medication is only safe to use in children ages 12 and up. Studies have shown promise in patients younger than 12, and no side effects were reported in these patients. However, more research must be done in pediatric patients younger than 12 before dupilumab is deemed safe for them. Additionally, more research is necessary to determine safe dosages in younger children.

Newer Treatments

New treatments are always becoming available, even in pediatric patients. If your child’s dermatitis isn’t well-controlled using their current medications, it’s important to inquire about other possible treatment options.

Pediatric Dermatologist - FAQ

FAQs Parents Ask Pediatric Dermatologists

What Are the Risk Factors for Atopic Dermatitis?

The child’s genetics are a risk factor.

Children who have asthma or hay fever are more likely to develop dermatitis than a child without these conditions. More research is necessary to find the link between these conditions. As of now, scientists have found a connection between these issues and an overactive immune system.

What Causes Eczema in Toddlers?

In most cases, a toddler develops eczema if one of their parents has the condition. The cause is unknown for children without a parent with eczema as of now.

What Causes Dermatitis in Kids?

Most children who have dermatitis have a parent who has had it. Often, it may be triggered by an immune disorder that stems from genetic and/or environmental factors. However, the exact cause of it is unknown.

Is Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis Different?

The terms eczema and atopic dermatitis are often used interchangeably. However, eczema refers to a broad range of skin issues that cause inflammation, while dermatitis is a specific skin inflammation within that broader category. 

What Helps with Itching?

Often, a person can reduce dermatitis itching by reducing the temperature of their shower, keeping moisturized, and avoiding topical products with dyes or fragrances. A dermatologist can sometimes prescribe medication that can stop the itching as well.

How Can Dermatitis Be Treated?

Currently, there isn’t a cure for atopic dermatitis in adult or pediatric dermatitis. Prescription medications, phototherapy, and self-care measures can reduce symptoms and prevent flare-ups. On the east coast, you may want to find a specialist by searching for “pediatric dermatologist NYC.”

The condition may go into remission or go away on its own over time, especially in pediatric patients.

What Is the Best Medicine for Eczema?

No one medication is the best for eczema. The first course of action a dermatologist usually recommends is self-care measures. If these aren’t enough, they typically move on to prescribe corticosteroids, which are effective for some patients. The best medicine for eczema depends on the patient, the severity of the condition, and how they respond to certain medications.

Can Dermatitis Be Controlled Through Diet?

Food allergies can trigger a dermatitis flare for pediatric patients specifically. If you aren’t already aware of a food allergy, a specialist can provide testing, such as a skin prick, patch, or blood test to determine potential allergens. Through avoidance of these triggers, a patient can reduce the number of flare-ups.

How to Treat Seborrheic Dermatitis Naturally at Home?

Not all cases of dermatitis are atopic. Another form of dermatitis many patients look for a pediatric dermatologist in NYC is seborrheic dermatitis, which commonly affects children’s scalps. It’s more commonly known as “cradle cap” and stems from the sebaceous glands which secrete an oily substance.

Keeping the area clean is vital to treating seborrheic dermatitis. Shampoos designed specifically to treat dandruff may help as well. You may want to try applying olive oil, or other similar oils and brushing out the patches.

What Are Myths and Misconceptions About Atopic Dermatitis?

The first myth is that dermatitis and eczema are the same. Atopic dermatitis is a more specific skin issue while eczema is a term used for a broad range of skin issues that cause inflammation.

Another myth is that daily bathing is out of the question for people with dermatitis. While over-bathing can dry out the skin, it may benefit some patients to bathe every day to hydrate their skin and remove bacteria that can irritate the condition.

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