Q. I have a 5-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 knees on 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 two or three times. But what I am looking for is some permanent relief for my son. Please advise.
A. Is this problem really since birth or started when the baby was at least 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 have they now gradually shifted to the legs? These questions are important as these might help your dermatologist to reach a diagnosis of atopic dermatitis or childhood eczema. Of course, other diagnoses are also possible but this seems to be the most apt one, at least 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. These include:
• 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 / she confirms this diagnosis.