Approximately one out of ten kids will develop eczema. The symptoms usually appear sometime in the first months of life, but (almost) always before the age of 5. Most have other family members with eczema or another allergy. Children who have eczema will develop another allergy later in life, about half the time. Fifty percent of the children with childhood eczema will not have it past the time they are teenagers.
Eczema can come and go and varies in severity from person to person, and from outbreak to outbreak. Symptoms include:
- Itchy red rash with small bumps. The rash can also turn crusted or weepy.
- It may start between the ages of 2 to 6 months on the cheeks.
- Typical areas affected are the creases of the elbows, wrists and knees.
- Other areas are the neck, ankles and feet.
- The rash will get raw and weepy if it is repeatedly scratched.
- Constant dry skin.
In addition to any topical medication that the doctor has prescribed, you can help treat your child's eczema by:
- Adjusting your kid's diet. Dairy and gluten are often causes of eczema. You may have to eliminate them from the diet for a few weeks before you see results.
- Reducing the irritants that your child's skin is exposed to. Switch to unscented and dye-free soaps and laundry detergents and don't use fabric softener. Do not add any bubbles to bathwater. Dress your kid in loose fitting comfortable clothing; cotton is best.
- Keeping the skin hydrated. Do not bathe your child more than every other day. That will help preserve some of the natural skin oils. Apply moisturizer the pediatrician has recommended three times a day, and after bathing. Offer your child plenty of water to drink.
- Controlling the itching. Cover your child's skin with as much clothing as the weather permits to protect the skin from irritants and scratching. Your child's nails should be kept neatly trimmed to reduce damage to the skin from scratching and to reduce the introduction of bacteria from under the fingernails. If your kid scratches a lot when he's sleeping, consider soft, lightweight gloves at bedtime.
- Soothing the rash with cold compresses 3 times a day before moisturizing, and as needed.
Call the doctor when eczema first appears and after diagnosis always call if the rash gets infected, your child has a rash and a fever, the rash is not improving or your child can not sleep because of eczema.
You can help reduce the irritants that might trigger a flare up by reducing your child's exposure to the following:
- Pet dander
- Extremely dry air
- Harsh soaps and detergents
- Coarse fabrics
- Unnecessary skin care products, especially any that contain alcohol as an ingredient
- Second hand smoke
Wanna read more? Check out our child health page!