Neurodermatitis in Your Baby - Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Neurodermatitis is one of the most commonly-occurring skin disorders in babies and toddlers. The resulting itching puts enormous strain on the child. Parents often feel helpless in this situation, but there are some ways in which you can relieve your little one's discomfort, such as using neurodermatitis cream from the pharmacy.
What is neurodermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis, also known as atopic eczema, is a skin disorder which is primarily characterised by scaly, red and sometimes weeping areas of skin and intense itching. It is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder which is not contagious and usually occurs in phases.
Neurodermatitis often appears during the newborn or toddler stage. In some cases, those affected also suffer from types of eczema as adults. It is not uncommon, however, for symptoms to disappear completely during a child's first few years.
Atopic dermatitis is often hereditary
The skin disorder neurodermatitis can be inherited. If one or both parents are affected, it is highly likely that their child will also suffer from the skin disorder. Neurodermatitis often occurs alongside other atopic disorders such as asthma or hayfever.
Factors which may lead to neurodermatitis in babies and toddlers:
- The skin's protective layer is not strong enough
- Environmental influences such as pollen, mites, animal hair
- A weakened immune system
- Hereditary: Genetic causes
Symptoms of neurodermatitis in babies
One of the first signs of neurodermatitis in babies is what is known as milk crust, which is most likely to form in the face and on the head. It is characterised by reddened skin and crusty patches. As these symptoms do not necessarily indicate atopic eczema, it is always worth having it checked by a paediatrician.
Symptoms of neurodermatitis in later life
Older people affected by neurodermatitis tend to have a skin reaction on their arms and legs, mainly in the crook of the arm and the hollow of the knee, and less frequently in the face or on the head. The symptoms occur in phases, as is the case in childhood, and may also be influenced by outside factors. Sufferers often experience it more strongly in the winter than in the summer. It is caused by atmospheric conditions. Even people who are not affected by any skin disorders complain more frequently of dry skin during the cold season than at other times. Stress is also a typical trigger for a flare-up.
How can I relieve my baby's neurodermatitis?
There are some ways in which you can relieve your little one's discomfort. It is important to be patient. Sometimes a little time is needed to find out what really helps your child and what doesn't.
Skin care for neurodermatitis: Cream for children and babies
Cream usually helps your baby when treating neurodermatitis. It should be applied on a daily basis, or more frequently if necessary. Proceed with caution. It is important that your baby does not see moisturising as a negative experience, but ideally a pleasant one. After all, it will become an integral part of your shared daily routine. Try to make contact with the affected areas as gently as possible and massage the healthy skin. This can help your baby to relax not just physically, but also mentally, thereby positively influencing the progression of the disorder.
Ensure a pleasant room temperature so that your little one does not get cold. It is best to ask a pharmacist or doctor about a good neurodermatitis cream.
Precautionary measures for neurodermatitis: Prevent scratching
Atopic eczema often results in a vicious circle for sufferers. The damaged skin leads to inflammation, which again triggers intense itching. As soon as the patient starts scratching, the skin becomes even more damaged.Bacteria and other germs may also get in and intensify the flare-up, which is why it is important to prevent scratching. While it is possible to explain to children why they should not scratch, this is difficult when it comes to babies. You can, however, put cotton gloves on your little one or a special sleep suit with fold-over hands.
Appreciate that your little one will not be in a very good mood during a neurodermatitis flare-up. The itching does not just constitute an intense physical burden. It is also mentally very stressful. Give your little one lots of attention and set aside enough time to care for the inflamed skin.
Advice in the case of itchy neurodermatitis in babies and toddlers
Many materials and overly tight clothing place a burden on the inflamed skin. It is best to dress your little one in loose-fitting clothes made of cotton or linen. Try not to let your child sweat, as this encourages itchiness.
Only use mild care products at bath time which do not contain additives such as unnecessary perfume. You should also make sure bath time is as short as possible in order to stop your little one's skin from drying out. Find our more on how to gently bath your baby.
Carefully pat your child dry with a towel and do not rub down.
Neurodermatitis cream or cold compresses can help soothe itching in acute situations.
Neurodermatitis and nutrition
Breastfeeding your baby is an effective way to prevent neurodermatitis. Paediatricians and dermatologists recommend exclusive breastfeeding during your baby's first four to six months. Breastmilk contains all of the important nutrients for your little one. It also contains proteins, produced by the body, against which no allergic reactions can develop.
If it is not possible for you to breastfeed your baby, breast milk substitute products with the addition HA (for "hypoallergenic") can work well.
Many children who suffer from neurodermatitis also have food allergies. If it has been determined that your child does have food allergies, an appropriate diet and avoiding the food allergens can help to relieve the symptoms. Talk to a paediatrician or dermatologist about whether a dietary change may help your child. If an entire food group, such as dairy products, has to be excluded due to the allergy, you should consult a nutritionist in order to prevent potential nutritional deficiencies.
Measures to relieve neurodermatitis:
- Treat the skin with neurodermatitis cream (several times) every day
- Encourage mental relaxation in your baby via massage.
- Prevent scratching with cotton gloves or special sleep suits.
- Be patient and attentive with your child.
- Dress your child in clothing made of gentle fabrics such as cotton
- Prevent sweating
- Use mild care products
- Keep bath times short and carefully pat your baby dry afterwards
- Test cold compresses when itching is severe
How can I prevent my baby from getting neurodermatitis?
It is essential that you avoid smoking during pregnancy and after giving birth. You should generally protect your little one from cigarette smoke as this promotes various disorders, even neurodermatitis.
There is a theory that exclusively breastfeeding until the end of your baby's fourth month can prevent atopic eczema. It has not been proved, but it cannot do any harm.
Breastfeeding mothers should also eat a well-balanced diet so that the baby receives all of the required nutrients.
If your baby is exposed to the sun or wintry conditions, moisturise his or her skin with appropriate care products such as baby sunscreen or an oil-based cream which protects against the cold. This preserves and supports the skin's natural protective layer.
It is generally recommended that you protect your little one from unnecessary stress, not just because stress is a trigger for a neurodermatitis, but also because your child will do better overall if he or she grows up in a calm environment.
Preventing neurodermatitis in your baby:
- Avoid smoking during and after pregnancy
- Breastfeed exclusively until the end of your baby's fourth month.
- A balanced diet
- Use care products in sunny or cold weather
- Protect your little one from stress