HOW TO BE A BETTER ATOPIC DERMATITIS PARENT
Caring for a child with atopic dermatitis can be time intensive and emotionally demanding.1-3 To be the best possible caregiver, you need to take care of yourself as well. Sometimes, you might need support without even realizing it.1-3
Here are a few tips to help make things a little easier for you and your child.
Knowing is half the battle.
As a parent of a child with atopic dermatitis, you can feel like you need to become an expert on the subject. You might feel anxious as you try to find the right advice and information to help ease your child’s discomfort.2,3 While increasing your knowledge helps you feel more in control, bear in mind that you can only learn so much in a given amount of time. Give yourself a break.
Lean on the expertise of your doctor and other professionals. In addition to information, you can also learn many practical tips from other parents who are taking care of children with the same condition, ask your doctor about support groups and forums that might help.
Read about what causes atopic dermatitis here.
Atopic dermatitis can affect children of different ages in different ways. Learn more here.
Talking about atopic dermatitis.
You should be able to talk to your child about their condition. Learning about what is atopic dermatitis, cause of atopic dermatitis, how to manage symptoms, and the roles of different treatments can help them feel more in control.3,4 Aside from getting a good understanding of their condition, this can help them understand that this is not their fault, or yours, and allows them to build confidence.
You can use the following explainers to help open conversations with your child. You can either read them together, or let them go through it in their own time. The aim is to shift the child’s view of atopic dermatitis from something that is “harmful or angry” to “protective and overactive” instead. This could help both you and your child be a little kinder to yourselves, knowing that their immune system just works slightly differently from people without this condition.
The impact of atopic dermatitis isn’t only physical, it can also affect their quality of life.4 Some of the ways that you child may be affected can include: losing confidence in their appearance, loss of self-esteem, difficulty spending time with friends or making spontaneous plans, discomfort or displeasure with wearing clothes that they love, sleep disturbances, difficulty in concentrating on lessons, inability to attend school.4
Instead of saying “Stop scratching”, you could ask “is your AD bothering you? What can we do about it?”
Be a better carer by taking care of yourself.
Atopic dermatitis in children can affect parents and other family members as well.1,3 Don’t be too hard on yourself. Every day, you work incredibly hard to protect and support your child, while also managing other aspects of daily life. Do not feel guilty or worried that you are not doing enough.1
Taking care of a child with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis can change affect the physical and mental health of caregivers.1,3 Watching your child suffer can make you suffer as well. This can affect your sleep, make you lose time for yourself or other important people in your life, impact your productivity, cause emotional distress, guilt, and exhaustion.1-3
Be aware of these potential negative effects and learn to see the signs in yourself. Find out what you need to do so that you are in a good place physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially to give your child the best care. Do not be afraid to reach out if you are feeling overwhelmed. Your doctor, other professionals, your family and friend can help.
You can do this.
- Chamlin, S.L., Cella, D., Frieden, I.J., et al. (2005). Development of the childhood atopic dermatitis impact scale: initial validation of a quality-of-life measure for young children with atopic dermatitis and their families. J Invest Dermatol. 125(6):1106-1111.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15325550
- Capozza, K., Gadd, H., Kelley, K., et al. (2020). Insights from caregivers on the impact of pediatric atopic dermatitis on families: “I’m tired, overwhelmed, and feel like I’m failing as a mother”. Dermatitis. 31(3):223-227. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32091463/
- Xu, X., van Galen, L.S., Koh, M.J.A., et al. (2019). Factors influencing quality of life in children with atopic dermatitis and their caregivers: a cross sectional study. Sci Rep. 9:15990. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-51129-5
- Zuberbier, T., Orlow, S.J., Paller, A.S., et al. (2006). Patient perspectives on the management of atopic dermatitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 118(1):226-232. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16815160/
Health information contained herein is provided for general educational purposes only. Your healthcare professional is the single best source of information regarding your health. Please consult your healthcare professional if you have any questions about your health or treatment.