Neurodermatitis in children

A muffled scratching sounds from the children's room. For affected parents, this is an unmistakable sign that their child is now again suffering from itching. This itching is the main characteristic of neurodermatitis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease that is not contagious. A child's cheeks and scalp are often affected.

The so-called milk crust is also part of neurodermatitis, it is an early form and can also go away on its own. The disease causes reddened thickened and spots on the skin. These are called herds. A hearth develops in phases. This is accompanied by a strong itching. Children in particular can no longer control themselves and scratch themselves - often until the skin is sore and bloody. Pathogens are now opening doors. Bacterial infection is often still present in infected herds and leads to suppuration. If the child has scratched the red spots, scars may remain. In addition, the scratching by many scientists is also held responsible for the chronification of neurodermatitis.

Reducing itching is therefore the most important goal in treating neurodermatitis. But it's not that easy to reach. Neurodermatitis cannot be controlled easily because it is caused by a mix of several causes

The neurodermatitis is of allergic origin. This means it is a hypersensitivity reaction of the body to certain substances. The most common triggers include pollen, mite proteins in house dust and animal scales, but also some food or preservatives. Often these triggers occur together with disorders of the immune system and lipid metabolism of the skin. In addition, neurodermatitis occurs in familial frequency. This suggests that the system is inherited to receive such disturbances.

During the treatment, the doctor wants to find out which trigger it is. If the suspect of certain foods falls, the patient will have to do without them. More, however, the cause lies in house dust, or rather in the excretions of house dust mites. Regular, thorough suctioning of the bed with special vacuum cleaners (allergy seal) and a mite-repellent mattress can improve the condition. If allergies can clearly be detected in an allergy test, doctors also carry out a hyposensitization.

Otherwise, they try to ease the symptoms. This is a difficult task. Radiation with UV light and treatment stays in the high mountains have so far proved their worth. Anti-inflammatory drugs and greasy ointments help to mitigate the symptoms. It is common to relieve inflammations with cortisone containing ointments. Meanwhile, cortisone free ointments and creams are also available. These anti-inflammatory therapies are used at intervals, i.e. the therapy is interrupted by a therapy-free period.

In children, however, it is not only the medical treatment by the doctor that is important, but also the psychological involvement of the parents. The disease has an enormous influence on the child's psyche and family life.

If a child has to live with severe neurodermatitis, the psychological side suffers from itching and discomfort. This further worsens the skin's appearance. It's not for nothing they say,"It's under my skin." A neurodermatitis child with itchy, bleeding skin areas and scratching attacks also puts psychological strain on the rest of the family. On the one hand, parents feel helpless because they cannot take the disease away from their child. The whole family suffers from the burden of a sick child. The siblings may feel reset if the parents take too much care of the sick child. The little patient will soon find out that the disease also has advantages for him. He can use them to exercise power over the parents. This is where you as an educator are challenged: You cannot allow your sick child more than a healthy child.

This is not an easy situation for parents. Maybe the following tips will help:

Lead your child step by step into self-employment. When it was small,  you greased it with an anti-inflammatory cream. However, at 5 to 6 years you can also teach your child it creams itself at night and does not always have to wake you up.

Learn autogenic training. This applies both to you and your child. Because you both have to learn to cope with the stress more relaxed.

Itching often worsens with bedtime. Then read him a story or let him listen to a quiet children's music to get to sleep. In this way, the child is distracted from its skin and can fall asleep better.

Something comforting: often neurodermatitis develops with puberty. At least this is the case in three out of four cases.


Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany

Text: Dr. Beatrice Wagner, Editor: Birgit Kahl