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How Can Winter Affect Atopic Dermatitis in Children?

What is atopic dermatitis?

Did you know that the biggest organ in the body is the skin?


In some people, the skin can weigh around 3.6 kg and be 22 square feet.

The skin's most important roles are to protect the body from external irritation like ultraviolet radiation and injuries, regulate the body temperature, and prevent dehydration.

The skin also interacts with the body's immune system and fights different pathogens that come in contact with the skin. Inside the skin, there are cells called Langerhans cells, phagocytic cells, and epidermal dendritic cells that are part of the immune system and help the body's immunity.

The skin in children is different than in adults. Children's skin is thinner, and for example, a baby's skin is only one fifth the thickness of adult skin. That makes the skin more permeable for different irritants and more sensitive to different types of allergens and germs, leading to skin eczema -atopic dermatitis. If the skin barrier can't provide adequate protection, the whole body is exposed to different pathogens from the environment.


Causes of atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is frequently associated with a personal or family history of allergic disorders or triggered by various environmental agents and factors.

The name "Atopic" itself has a meaning of genetic tendency toward allergic disease. It can occur right after birth or during the first years of the child's life, and usually, it's a sign that the child later during its life will develop allergic rhinitis or asthma. Less common, they will develop allergies to food.



When atopic dermatitis appears in the first months of the child's life, it starts with red weeping crusted lesions on the face, scalp, diaper area, and extremities.

In older children can be localized and chronic; the lesions are usually on the wrists, back aspect of knees, inner aspect of elbows, eyelids, and neck.

These lesions are itchy, and the skin is dehydrated.

Emotional stress, ambient temperature, weather changes, humidity changes, bacterial skin infections, fragrances, fabric softeners, and wool garments usually cause worsening of the symptoms.



Since some factors can worsen atopic dermatitis symptoms, you can do some things to prevent the symptoms, like applying ointments and creams and moisturize the skin frequently. Avoid sudden changes in temperature or humidity, and try to use fragrance-free detergents, cleansers, and skin products for better skincare for your child.

Emotional stress can also worsen the symptoms. Try to help your child if going through a stressful period.


The conventional treatment for atopic dermatitis in children is applying corticosteroid creams and ointments three times a day. Between using corticosteroid creams, it is recommended to apply white petrolatum to help hydrate the skin. Prolonged and widespread of high-potency corticosteroid creams in infants should be avoided. Bathing should be minimized if it exacerbates the symptoms, and the soap should not be used in the dermatitic areas. You can apply oils and emollients. The corticosteroid creams should be applied within 3 min of bathing.

How to ease the symptoms of atopic dermatitis during Winter?

As mentioned before, weather changes and changes in the humidity or sudden change in the temperature can trigger or worsen atopic dermatitis symptoms. The cold and dry weather and lack of sun in Winter make the symptoms worse.

That is why proper care of the child's skin during Winter is critical.

Here are some tips on what you can do to prevent the symptoms:

*Moisturize the skin more often and try to use thick moisturizer;

* Don't bath your child with harsh soaps; always use gentle soaps and keep the bath and showers short using lukewarm water;

*Use humidifiers to increase the moisture in the room;

*Avoid creams that contain allergens and irritants;

*Keep your child hydrated and always during the winter months give Vitamin D.

* Besides the corticosteroid creams for calming the itchiness, you can also give Vitamin B.

If you need medical help or advice, please contact your GP or pediatrician for further evaluation.


 Williams, Hywel C. (2000). The epidemiology of atopic dermatitis. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology. 25. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 522–9. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2230.2000.00698.x. ISBN 9780521570756. PMID 11122223. S2CID 31546363.

"Handout on Health: Atopic Dermatitis (A type of eczema)". National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. May 2013. Archived from the original on 30 May 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.

 Tollefson MM, Bruckner AL (December 2014). "Atopic dermatitis: skin-directed management". Pediatrics. 134 (6): e1735–44. doi:10.1542/peds.2014-2812. PMID 2542200.