Atopic Dermatitis

Cranky babies may be crying themselves red in the face for a very painful reason. Your precious bundle of joy may have a case of atopic dermatitis but not the words to tell you about it.

Atopic dermatitis is a somewhat catch-all term for dermatological skin disorders of undetermined origin that usually involve a food intolerance or full-blown allergy. It’s most often babies and small children diagnosed with atopic dermatitis and, luckily, they will likely outgrow it in a year or two but, in the meantime, they’re likely to be quite miserable.

Patches of rough scaly skin that may feel warm to the touch and be swollen and tender are a telltale signs of atopic dermatitis. So are oozing patches of tiny blisters on baby’s torso, upper extremities, and face.

Skin lesions associated with atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema, are often limited to the upper body and may vary from day to day. One characteristic of this diagnosis is that the lesions are often symmetrical; if the inside of one elbow (a very likely spot) is inflamed, the other arm will exhibit similar symptoms.

Your baby can’t describe the symptoms or the agonies of this ailment but the few adults who get it certainly can.

Some say atopic dermatitis burns like rubbing jalapeno pepper juice all over your body. That a cool shower helps a lot but when the water on the skin evaporates after the shower, it’s like a million tiny pinpricks tormenting the body with an entirely different sensation of pain.

Others say the itch is unimaginable and no amount of scratching relieves it. In fact, the scratching can go on until the skin bleeds and there is still no relief available. Others fantasize being a snake with the good fortune to shed old, painful skin and start fresh with raw, painless skin again.

The obvious treatment is to identify the offending food and remove it from the child’s diet. The most common triggers for food allergies that babies are likely to encounter are wheat gluten, soy, and dairy products.

Other foods that trigger atopic dermatitis are more suited to the tastes of older children and adults. If you child eats shellfish or nuts, especially peanuts, consider altering his or her diet to eliminate these items for a year or two.

To get instant relief from the agonies of atopic dermatitis, your child’s pediatrician may prescribe hydrocortisone or other steroidal ointments or creams. If symptoms prove resistant to this treatment, immunosuppressant medications may be in order.

When your baby seems consistently listless, out of sorts, and cranky, consider his or her diet. The redness in your precious baby’s face may not be due to anger or distress. It is one very obvious sign of painful atopic dermatitis.

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