My one-year-old son is suffering from persistent redness on his face for the past several months. Sometimes his skin turns scaly and crusted. During early infancy, he had a horribly crusted scalp, which has gradually improved. Please help.
The description of your son’s skin problems clinically fits into a diagnosis of atopic dermatitis (AD), known as infantile or childhood eczema.
His early scalp lesions were due to cradle cap, known as seborrhoeic dermatitis. Most infants seen with this in the first few months after birth develop manifestations of AD. The face is the most commonly affected area. The front of elbows and backs of knees are common too. In severe cases, almost the entire body is affected, leaving the suffering child very restless.
AD is one of the most common dermatological problems, affecting about 10-15 per cent of children. The condition could develop into bronchial asthma and allergic rhinitis (running nose).
There is no definite cure. With time the immune behaviour shows an autoregulation, and spontaneous remission. The statistics of AD suggest that majority of suffering children become free of complaints by the mid-teens.
There is a widely existing perception that most of the worsening episodes of AD are due to allergic reactions to foods. However, almost half of such sudden overactivity can be due to irritant reactions of the skin to a large number of external factors.
Treating and managing the condition is a complex issue. Topical corticosteroids have historically been the mainstay of treatment. These are effective, but their use should be careful and judicial to avoid side effects.
Frequent and intense applications of oil-rich emollients have proved to be effective too.
Consult an experienced dermatologist who can take over the professional responsibility of treating him, and can also educate you on other necessary guidelines to be observed at home.