Your Child and Eczema

What is Eczema?

Eczema is a skin condition that is characterised by intense itchiness, redness, dryness, and sometimes blistering, weeping or crusting, arising from inflammation of the skin.

Eczema and Children

We’ve talked about eczema and how a good skincare regimen can help manage the condition here, but what happens if your child has eczema-prone skin?
How can you tell and what should you do about it? Here are some questions and answers to help prepare you on what to expect and do.

1) How common is eczema amongst children?

Eczema is quite common, with around 20% of children under five years of age developing eczema*.

2) What does eczema look like?

It looks like patches of red, scaly skin that itches and feels rough to touch. In general, eczema can affect any area of the body. However, affected areas and appearance of eczema may change as your child grows up:

  • Infants and young babies – Looks red and weepy: appearing more often on the cheeks, forehead and scalp.
  • 6 to 12 months – Occurs more commonly on the crawling surfaces, elbows and knees. Still looks red and weepy.
  • Around two years and above – Appears mostly on the elbows, knees, wrists, ankles and hands. At this age, eczema makes the skin look wrinkled and dry. The affected area also feels rougher and thicker compared to the rest of your child’s skin.
3) Is there a cure for eczema?

At the moment, there is no cure for eczema. However, most children tend to outgrow eczema or the condition becomes less severe over time. There are also many therapies or strategies to keep eczema under control, so don’t worry!

4) Can I prevent my child from getting eczema?

While there are no medically-proven ways to totally prevent eczema, a combination of a good skincare regimen to strengthen your baby’s skin and identifying the triggers can prevent the condition from worsening and reduce the possibility of flare-ups.

5)What can trigger eczema flare-ups?

This varies from child to child. Some of the more common triggers include:

  • Irritants – Fabrics, dust mites, smoke, scented products, soaps and pets are some of the things that can irritate the skin and trigger eczema flare-ups.
  • Heat and sweat – Both heat and sweat can aggravate or trigger the eczema.
  • Low humidity – Environments with low humidity may cause the skin to become dry, making eczema-affected areas appear and itch more.
  • Saliva – Babies tend to drool a lot. This can cause extra irritation to eczema-afflicted areas like the cheeks, chin and neck.

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Is there anything I can do to help my child?

Milder cases of eczema can be controlled through a good daily bathing and moisturising regimen:

  • Daily Baths – Give your baby short, warm baths every day. Avoid using hot water and try to keep baths under 10 minutes. Using a gentle wash such as the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is also very important. Avoid using soap, scrubbers, loofahs or rough washcloths on your baby’s skin. Use a soft towel to pat instead of wiping or scrubbing your child’s skin dry. These simple bath practices can help prevent your child’s skin from becoming dry or irritated.
  • Use a moisturiser – Immediately after a bath, moisturise your child’s skin. Ideally, it is best to use a gentle moisturiser to prevent skin irritation. Good moisturisers may also have soothing ingredients that will help calm inflamed and itchy skin. Try to moisturise twice a day.

Consult a GP

It is important to consult a GP and follow their advice closely. If eczema becomes infected, your GP may prescribe topical or oral medications.

Some of the therapies they may prescribe to alleviate your child’s eczema condition include:

  • Topical medications for eczema – Topical treatments may be prescribed by your doctor to relieve eczema-related inflammation and itch.
  • Oral medications for eczema – Oral treatments may be prescribed by your doctor to relieve eczema-related inflammation, itch or infection depending on the medication prescribed.
  • Diluted bleach baths – Diluted bleach baths help to reduce bacteria on the skin, decreasing the chances of bacterial skin infections. The doctor will advise on the dilution method.

References:

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) [Internet]. Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA). [cited 2017Apr16]. Available from: https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/skin-allergy/eczema  

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