#Baby skintypes

Treating Contact and Atopic Dermatitis: Understanding the Differences

Main savonnée, soapy hand
Dermatitis is a common skin condition in babies and young children that often causes discomfort and concern for parents. To better understand what it is and provide appropriate care for your children, it is essential to distinguish between its two most common forms: contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.

Understanding What Dermatitis Is

Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin characterized by redness, itching, and sometimes blisters. It can be triggered by various factors such as allergies, exposure to irritants, stress, or simply genetic predispositions.

Understanding these different aspects of dermatitis is crucial for parents because it will help you better recognize symptoms in your children and take preventive measures to avoid known triggers. Additionally, it will assist you in choosing the right skincare products for your children, avoiding potentially irritating substances, and promoting solutions tailored to the sensitivity of our little ones' skin.

Dermatitis: Characteristics and Differences Between Its Forms

Dermatitis comes in different forms, two of the most common being contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis is a skin reaction caused by direct contact with an irritating or allergenic substance. Symptoms may include redness and itching, which usually appear on exposed skin areas. Common allergens include nickel, chemicals found in certain detergents, or even some foods. To avoid contact dermatitis, it is recommended to avoid contact with irritating sources and opt for products suitable for sensitive children's skin—as well as adults’.

Alternatively, atopic dermatitis is a more complex form, often associated with a family history. It affects up to 25% of children and 2 to 3% of adults. In fact, 90% of children develop atopic dermatitis before the age of 5. It is characterized by periods of flare-ups and remissions, with symptoms such as intense itching, red and scaly patches, and dry, cracked skin. In babies and young children, the most commonly affected areas are the face, scalp, buttocks and flexion areas (elbows and knees).

What Are the Best Treatment Approaches?

Treatments for dermatitis in infants and children vary depending on its type and include several important aspects.

Prevention plays a very important role, especially in children with family history of dermatitis. It is therefore recommended to regularly use emollient creams that can reduce the risk of developing atopic dermatitis.

During flare-ups, your family doctor may prescribe topical corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms.

Between flare-ups, it's important to establish a specific skincare routine. Limit bath time to 10 minutes and keep the water temperature between 35 and 37℃ (95 and 98.6℉). Use a gentle, moisturizing cleanser like cleansing oil. After bathing, pat the skin gently instead of rubbing to avoid further irritation.

Baby back seated in a blue bucket playing with water


Consistently apply moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated and protect its barrier, which helps relieve itching and prevents flare-ups. Additionally, choose soft, breathable, hypoallergenic clothing, avoid known irritants, and maintain a cool, humid environment to reduce symptoms.

Managing Hand Dermatitis: Tips for Relief and Comfort

Dermatitis can also affect the hands, resulting in symptoms like redness, itching, cracking, and scaling. Similar to other areas of the body, causes may include allergies, exposure to irritants, or genetic predispositions. Adults, frequently encountering irritating substances like household cleaners, chemicals, or metals, are more prone to developing hand dermatitis.

To manage flare-ups on the hands, it's advisable to take certain precautions. This includes using gentle cleansers and, most importantly, regularly applying moisturizing cream to maintain supple, hydrated skin. Additionally, wearing gloves during activities that involve exposure to irritants, such as cleaning the house, can provide added protection against hand dermatitis. By following these tips, you can reduce symptoms and improve the comfort of your hands.

when possible, Seek Professional Help

For parents whose children suffer from atopic dermatitis, consulting a healthcare professional such as a pediatrician or dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and identifying potential triggers by monitoring symptoms are crucial steps.

By following these practical tips and using the right skincare products, it is possible to effectively manage dermatitis in children and improve their daily lives.

Dermatitis can be challenging to manage, but with the right advice, you can help your child live comfortably. At Mustela Canada, we are here to support you with tailored skincare products, including our Stelatopia range. Together, let's work to provide your babies and children with the gentle support they deserve.