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What is the cause for a dry itchy skin with blisters of a 5 year old?

Wednesday, 23 June 2004
Answered by: Dr. Rishi Parashar
Consultant Dermatologist,
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital,
New Delhi
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Q. I have a five year old son. He has a skin problem since birth - dry skin with acute blisters and itching more so in the night. The affected area is below the knee of both legs. The problem is more prominent in winter or when it is cold. We are using an ointment called Elecome. This gives immediate relief. The skin becomes fine after applying this for two or three times. But sir, what I am looking for is some permanent relief for my son. Please suggest.

A.  Is this problem really since birth or started when the baby was atleast 3-4 months old? Does the child have blisters or just pus filled lesions? Did the child have these lesions on the face earlier and now they have gradually shifted to legs? These questions are important as these might help your dermatologist to reach a diagnosis of Atopic dermatitis or Childhood eczema. Of course other diagnosis are also possible but this seems to be the most apt one atleast on reading your description. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, itchy skin condition that is very common in children but may occur at any age. Atopic dermatitis usually occurs in people who have an atopic tendency. This means they may develop any or all of three closely linked conditions; atopic dermatitis, asthma and hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Often these conditions run within families with a parent, child or sibling also affected. A family history of asthma, eczema or hay fever is particularly useful in diagnosing atopic dermatitis in infants. Children with atopic dermatitis usually have a dry skin. This is due to reduced water-holding capacity and loss of barrier function. Factors that make the skin even drier can make the eczema harder to control:
  • Winter weather
  • Frequent washing particularly with very hot water
  • Soap and antiseptics
  • Low humidity
  • High ambient temperatures
  • Chlorine in swimming pools
  • Treatment options can be discussed with your dermatologist provided he confirms this diagnosis.
  • A.  Is this problem really since birth or started when the baby was atleast 3-4 months old? Does the child have blisters or just pus filled lesions? Did the child have these lesions on the face earlier and now they have gradually shifted to legs? These questions are important as these might help your dermatologist to reach a diagnosis of Atopic dermatitis or Childhood eczema. Of course other diagnosis are also possible but this seems to be the most apt one atleast on reading your description. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, itchy skin condition that is very common in children but may occur at any age. Atopic dermatitis usually occurs in people who have an atopic tendency. This means they may develop any or all of three closely linked conditions; atopic dermatitis, asthma and hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Often these conditions run within families with a parent, child or sibling also affected. A family history of asthma, eczema or hay fever is particularly useful in diagnosing atopic dermatitis in infants. Children with atopic dermatitis usually have a dry skin. This is due to reduced water-holding capacity and loss of barrier function. Factors that make the skin even drier can make the eczema harder to control:
  • Winter weather
  • Frequent washing particularly with very hot water
  • Soap and antiseptics
  • Low humidity
  • High ambient temperatures
  • Chlorine in swimming pools
  • Treatment options can be discussed with your dermatologist provided he confirms this diagnosis.
  • Comments: Read | Post
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