The condition may cause considerable distress to children and their families. It often results in sleep deprivation for the parents as well as the affected child who may develop behavioural disturbances. Treating children with sedating ‘classical’ antihistamines to help them sleep better may result in them being dopey the following day and should be discouraged as regular practice. Healthy members of the family may feel neglected by the amount of attention given to the affected child. Special diets and restrictions may have to be adopted by the whole household, resulting in atopic dermatitis becoming a ‘family disease’. Bedding and clothes often need to be changed and washed more frequently than usual. Special protective tunics and clothing may have to be worn, including ‘wet wraps’ in infants. Children with atopic dermatitis may not be able to join in activities in school and risk being marginalized. The young adult may have problems with hand dermatitis in occupations that involve frequent and repeated exposure to minor irritants, such as hairdressing or manufacturing. Older patients may experience dry skin associated with distressing itch that does not respond to antihistamines.