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Sleepikar

Children with atopic dermatitis and sleep problems

Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a dry and itchy skin condition that affects up to 20% of children. The main symptom is pruritus (itching). One of the most challenging aspects of having a child with atopic dermatitis is the impact persistent itching can have on sleep quality. Children with eczema often scratch through the night, meaning they can wake many times and lose out on precious hours of sleep. Read on to find strategies to reduce itching and promote a refreshing night’s rest for your child, and the rest of your family!

Children with atopic dermatitis and sleep problems

Dry itchy eczema causes sleep problems in 90% of children with atopic dermatitis. Lack of sleep due to dry itchy eczema can have a real impact on everyday life with children suffering from concentration problems and irritability. Luckily, there are things you can do to help your child get a better night’s sleep:

  • Keep the bedroom cool and use cotton sheets and pyjamas to avoid overheating
  • Try turning your child’s pyjamas inside out to avoid any scratchy seams or labels.
  • Adopt a specific night time routine: Bathtime before bed using a soap substitute such as LIPIKAR Syndet AP+ followed up by an emollient.
  • An emollient created specifically for eczema-prone skin such as LIPIKAR Baume AP+ can help eliminate itching and improve your child’s sleep quality.
  • Make sure your child has LIPIKAR Stick AP+ by his or her bed to defuse any itching attacks during the night.

Atopic dermatitis and sleep

How does dry itchy eczema affect sleep in children?

Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a common skin condition affecting up to 20% of children and 3% of adults. It is associated with very dry skin that is prone to intense pruritus (itching), often leaving it red and raw with visible scratch marks. Atopic eczema impacts on quality of life in many ways - not least annoying itching and the embarrassment of visible lesions - but one of the top impacts is on the quality of sleep due to persistent itching during the night.

For general information on atopic dermatitis, click HERE

How much sleep do children with atopic dermatitis lose?

The top symptom of atopic dermatitis is itching and 90% of children with eczema experience this. It is the #1 symptom impacting on children’s quality of life. By the same token, 90% of eczema patients have sleep issues. Incredibly, studies have shown that children spend 1/4 of the night scratching - that’s more time scratching than dreaming! To give you an idea, the net result is the loss of a full hour of sleep each night*.  And of course, this affects the whole family. And as we are sure you already know, parents can lose up to 2 hours’ sleep comforting children with eczema during the night.

How eczema affects children’s sleep

Dry itchy atopic dermatitis symptoms can affect different stages of sleep:

  • Falling asleep: Children usually doze off within 30 minutes while children with atopic skin take up to double that time.
  • Waking up at night: Children with normal skin tend to wake up just once a night, whereas this figure rises to 3-4 times in children with atopic dermatitis.
  • Getting back to sleep: Without eczema, children are able to get back to sleep within 20 minutes whereas this time extends far longer in children suffering from the itchy symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
  • Sleep efficiency: Children are usually asleep for 85% of time in bed. For kids with dry itchy eczema, this figure drops to under 75%.

How do atopic dermatitis symptoms and lack of sleep affect children in their daily lives?

Dry itchy eczema affects every aspect of children’s sleep and this has a knock-on effect on several aspects of their everyday lives. Beyond feeling tired, 87% feel irritated and have mood swings the day after a bad night. This can last, with 80% feeling restless for the whole day after. 42% cannot concentrate properly the next day, which clearly has the potential to impact on progress at school.

But don’t panic – Read on to discover our tips to improving sleep quality for children with eczema.

How to help a child with eczema get a good night’s sleep

In atopic dermatitis, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your child’s chance of having a restful night:

  • Keep the room cool. That means turning the heating down in winter and leaving the window open in summer. This will help prevent your child from sweating, which can make itching worse.
  • Amp up the humidity. Using a humidifier in your child’s room will create a more humid environment to help stop skin from drying out, making it less itchy.
  • Cut out junk food. Studies have shown that processed food high in sugar can increase itching. Opt for natural, healthy snacks, especially before bed.
  • Though it may be tempting when you’re at your wit’s end, try to avoid climbing into bed with your child. This will just make the bed hotter and make them more likely to itch.
  • Use cotton sheets and pyjamas which will help keep your child cool and let his or her skin breathe to reduce sweating.
  • Try turning your child’s pyjamas inside out to avoid any scratchy seams or labels.
  • Keep to a bedtime routine that is adapted to your child’s skin’s needs. A good routine starts with a bath or shower using a soap substitute such as LIPIKAR Syndet AP+.
  • Always apply a rich emollient after washing and before bed. LIPIKAR Baume AP+ instantly and lastingly soothes atopic eczema-prone skin and spaces out flare-ups of intense dryness. Using it before bed will make your child much less likely to itch during the night, which will in turn help everyone enjoy a refreshing night’s sleep!
  • Make sure your child has LIPIKAR Stick AP+ by the bed so he or she can grab it during any overnight wake-ups and stop itching in its tracks!

To read about the clinical trial carried out by La Roche-Posay, proving that a specific eczema-prone daily care routine before bed can reduce itching and scratching by half, click HERE.

For tips on how to help your child resist the urge to scratch, click HERE.

Want advice from a sleep specialist to help get your child to sleep? Try HERE.

* All of the statistics in this article are taken from the following 2 studies: Impact of Atopic Dermatitis on Health-Related Quality of Life in Spanish Children and Adults: The PSEDA Study, 323 patients Disease severity, scratching, and sleep quality in patients with atopic dermatitis, Bruce G Bender, 20 patients

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