5 common queries about atopic dermatitis


Pharmacist Marián García

If your child has atopic dermatitis, it might help if you understood what is happening to his skin. The skin is a barrier that helps to protect us from the exterior. In this case, the skin loses water more quickly than usual because small cracks appear in the skin that lead to dehydration.

During an outbreak you might need to use topical medication to relieve the itching and irritation. However, there are also times when taking baths and applying the right moisturizing cream will be enough to control atopic dermatitis.

Here are five questions that may have gone through your mind sometimes if your child has atopic dermatitis:

  1. Bath time! What are the correct steps for a child with atopic dermatitis?
  • Temperature: The temperature should be warm, make sure it is not too hot as this could damage the skin.
  • Cleansing gel: The product used to cleanse the skin should be mild, perfume-free, and most importantly, soap-free! However appealing the bubbles may be, they really shouldn’t be used in the bath for children with atopic dermatitis because soap can harm the skin.
  • Drying: Dry the child’s skin by gently patting it with the towel, don’t rub the towel across the skin.
  • Medication and moisturizing creams: Lastly, during an outbreak you may need to apply topical medication. This should be applied when the skin is almost dry and then apply the moisturizing cream to the rest of the skin.

The million-dollar question… One of the most common questions is how long the bath should last. Ideally it should only be between 5 and 10 minutes. Anything longer than 20 minutes may be harmful for the skin.

  1. The time is coming for after school activities… Can my child with atopic dermatitis have fun in the swimming pool?

Some of the chemical products used to maintain swimming pools can irritate the child’s skin. During an outbreak, when the skin is reddened, swollen and the child notices pain or itching, it may be a good idea to avoid going to the swimming pool.

Between outbreaks, there is nothing to stop the child from enjoying the swimming pool although it is advisable to follow these tips:

  • Apply moisturizing cream before going in the water.
  • Rinse the child’s skin immediately after coming out of the pool with a warm water shower (not hot water).
  • In the three minutes after the shower, gently dry the skin patting it lightly with a towel, leaving a little bit of water on the skin so it is a bit damp and then apply the cream for atopic skin.


  1. Can clothing affect my child’s dermatitis? What are the best clothes to wear?

Firstly, it is a good idea to wash new clothes before wearing them for the first time. This will get rid of excessive dyes and other products used to finish the fabrics that could irritate the skin. It is advisable to use washing detergent that is specifically intended for sensitive skin. It is important not to more detergent that the instructions state (using more will not make the clothes any cleaner) and rinse the clothes well with plenty of water. Avoid using fabric softener, as this removes the protective layer of the skin making it easier for irritations to occur on atopic skin.

And of course… Get rid of any labels! We all know how uncomfortable some labels can be and it is important to remove them completely to stop them from rubbing the skin.

  1. Can stress cause atopic skin?

Yes, especially in the transition stage between childhood and adolescence, stress can be one of the triggering causes of atopic dermatitis. There is evidence to show that controlling stress levels can reduce outbreaks. To do this, it is useful for children to get to know other children who also have atopic dermatitis. Talking and connecting with others in the same situation can help to reduce the distress and possible embarrassment they may feel because of the marks on their skin.

  1. Now that winter is coming… Should I be taking any special care with my child?

Different factors typical of this season like the cold, heating, and dry air can irritate children’s skin. As well as the steps already mentioned about baths and using moisturizing creams, there are some useful tips that we can put into practice:

  • Do not wrap the child up in garments that are too thick. It is better to opt for the “onion method” and, if necessary, the child can wear several layers that he may remove if he feels too hot.
  • Keep an eye on the thermostat at home and avoid excessive heat. The child should not sit too close to radiators, fireplaces, or heating pipes.
  • Use gloves made of cotton or natural fibres.
  • On snowy or rainy days, it is important to take off your shoes or wet clothes as soon as possible to prevent any skin irritation.

As you can see, there are some simple things we can do to improve the condition of our children’s’ skin. If you haven’t started yet… What are you waiting for?!