What is eczema?
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common chronic skin condition that affects adults and children alike. It often appears as early as birth and an estimated 10 to 20 percent of children have it. Extremely dry skin, itchy, inflamed skin are the main symptoms of eczema which lead to flare ups. It is not contagious and is often hereditary. Most children outgrow eczema.
What causes eczema in children?
The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Children with a family history of eczema, asthma, or allergies are more likely to develop eczema.
Environmental triggers such as irritants (soaps, detergents, and disinfectants), allergens (pollen, pet dander, and mold), and climate changes can also cause eczema flare-ups in children. Additionally, stress, hormonal changes, and certain foods can trigger eczema symptoms.
How to identify Eczema?
Eczema is characterized by dry, itchy, and red patches on the skin. In some cases, blisters may also appear. It is very important to be able to recognize the appearance of eczema on your child as they have sensitive skin and the condition is incredibly uncomfortable, sometimes painful. Furthermore, the appearance of pediatric atopic dermatitis can vary depending on a child’s age:
- In the first six months of a baby’s life, eczema typically appears on the face, cheeks, chin, forehead, and scalp. Skin will look very red and bumpy.
- Infants can also experience seborrheic dermatitis (also known as cradle cap). The cradle cap appears as scaly, crusty, red patches on the scalp and can last up until a child is twelve months old.
- From six-twelve months eczema begins to appear on areas of baby’s skin that are in contact with irritating surfaces (scratchy rugs) while they are learning to crawl. Baby eczema rashes can crust over and have a yellowish tint on the skin.
- From ages two-five years, a child’s atopic eczema will appear in the elbows, knees, wrists, hands, and ankles. The skin will look red, dry, and scaly. Sometimes deeper lines in the skin will appear, called lichenification.
- From age five and up, childhood eczema typically appears where adult eczema occurs most frequently, the elbows and knees. Red, itchy, scaly patches will develop on the child’s skin. Remember that about 70% of people experience eczema at some point in their life and it is easily treatable.
How to treat Eczema /Prevent Flare Ups?
1. Keep the skin moisturized: One of the most important things you can do to manage eczema in children is to keep their skin moisturized. Use a fragrance-free moisturizer at least twice a day, especially after bathing or showering.
2. Avoid triggers: Identify and avoid triggers that can worsen eczema symptoms in your child. Common triggers include certain fabrics, soaps, detergents, pet dander, and certain foods.
3. Dress your child in soft, breathable clothing: Choose soft, breathable clothing made from cotton or other natural fibers. Avoid wool and synthetic fabrics that can irritate the skin.
4. Use a humidifier: Dry air can worsen eczema symptoms. Use a humidifier in your child's bedroom to keep the air moist.
5. Apply wet compresses: Wet compresses can help soothe itchy and inflamed skin. Soak a clean cloth in cool water and apply it to the affected area for 10-15 minutes several times a day.
6. Try natural remedies: Some natural remedies have been found to be effective in managing eczema symptoms in children. These include coconut oil, tea tree oil, and chamomile tea.
7. Use medication as prescribed: If your child's eczema symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe medication such as topical corticosteroids or oral antihistamines. Make sure to use these medications as prescribed by your doctor.
8. Try not to scratch the rash: Shorten the nails, cover the area with a bandage or dressing. Wear gloves at night to minimize skin damage from scratching.
Is Eczema always severe?
Not at all! The severity of eczema can vary from person to person, and even from one flare-up to another in the same person. It is also possible for a person to have different levels of severity in different areas of their body.
Mild eczema is characterized by dry and itchy skin with occasional redness. The affected area may be slightly raised, and the skin may be rough to the touch. Mild eczema can often be managed with over-the-counter moisturizers and topical creams.
Moderate eczema is characterized by more widespread and intense symptoms. The affected area may be more red and inflamed, and the skin may be thicker and more scaly. Moderate eczema can often be managed with prescription-strength topical creams and ointments.
Severe eczema is characterized by very intense symptoms that can significantly impact a person's quality of life. The affected area may be extremely itchy, painful, and swollen, with cracked and bleeding skin. Severe eczema may require treatment with oral medications or biologic drugs.
Are Anti Histhamines helpful and safe?
In conclusion, managing eczema in children requires a combination of strategies including keeping the skin moisturized, avoiding triggers, dressing them in soft clothing, using a humidifier, applying wet compresses, trying natural remedies, and using medication as prescribed. It is important to work closely with your child's doctor to develop a treatment plan that works best for them.