Promoting Health in Children with Atopic Dermatitis

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Atopic dermatitis (AD), or eczema, can be a very challenging disease to manage. The etiology of the disease is not completely understood, and its incidence has risen in the past 10 years to more than 10% of the population. AD is characterized primarily by intense itching and the development of papules, scaly lesions, fissures, and crusting. The onset occurs primarily in childhood, and much of the disease management is conducted by the family. Patients and their families often experience multiple recurrences and exacerbations, repeated attempts at cures and treatments, lowered self-esteem of the child, impaired growth and development of the child, loss of sleep, discipline problems, and multiple clinic and emergency department visits for exacerbations. Management primarily consists of prevention (i.e., good daily skin care and management of environmental trigger factors such as infection, irritants, emotional stress, and allergens). These children and their families need education and the support of health care professionals. This article outlines specific techniques to help parents and children manage AD at home and minimize exacerbations.

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