What are the recommendations for rehydration in the treatment of pediatric atopic dermatitis (AD)?

Updated: Apr 26, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Lukewarm soaking baths lasting 10-20 minutes are ideal. [15] Extremely hot water should be avoided to prevent both vasodilation, which can trigger pruritus, and the damage to the skin barrier caused by scalding.

Small amounts of bath oils or emulsification agents may be used for added hydration benefits in older children and adolescents. Bath oils or emulsification agents result in slippery conditions; warn patients and parents of the resultant risks of trauma and drowning after a fall. Readily available over-the-counter bath agents include Aveeno Colloid Oatmeal, RoBathol, Maypo, cottonseed oil with Brij 93, or mineral oil.

Recommended soaps are mild and unscented with a neutral pH. Examples include Dove, Oil of Olay, Caress, Camay, Aveeno, and Purpose. Even these mild soaps are often too drying for atopic skin. If the children are prepubertal, bathing in water alone may be preferable. Postpubertal patients need to use soap in the axillae and groin but do not need it elsewhere.

If soaps are too irritating to the skin, hydrophobic lotions and creams, such as Cetaphil, Diprobase, and Unguentum Merck, may be used. These agents have excellent cleansing properties and low potential for irritation. They should be applied without water and rubbed gently over the skin surface until a light foaming occurs. A soft cotton cloth or tissue can then be applied to wipe away the agent, leaving behind a protective film of stearyl alcohol and propylene glycol.

Baby shampoo may be used to manage scalp dermatitis.

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