If you’ve noticed some nasty rashes on your little one’s skin, it could be that they have a skin condition called eczema. Eczema in children is very common and treatable, but it can be really uncomfortable during flare-ups. Here’s what you can expect from this condition and how you can quickly ease your child’s discomfort.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition that looks like raised, small bumps on the skin. Though it may not be pretty, eczema in children is neither serious nor contagious. The most common type of eczema in children and babies is called atopic dermatitis, and it’s often a result of inherited allergic tendencies.
Most children who have eczema get it as babies, and the condition continues into childhood. It’s the skin’s response to some type of irritant. Though eczema is a chronic condition, it’s very common, and it is manageable. Mild or moderate cases can be treated by a paediatrician. More severe cases are best treated by a dermatologist.
What Are the Symptoms?
In general, compared to those with a normal rash, children with eczema have drier skin, skin that itches at a lower threshold and they have a defective barrier of skin against the environment.
Other key symptoms include:
- Itchy, dry skin accompanied by bumps on the skin, especially on the backs of the arms and front of the thighs
- Blisters that ooze and crust over
- Red, inflamed skin around the blisters
- Ear discharge
- Raw skin from scratching
In children under 2 years old, you usually see eczema on the hands, feet, face or scalp. Older children often have the rash on the inside of elbows and knees. But if the outbreak is bad, eczema can appear anywhere on the body. If you’re ever unsure about the cause of your little one’s rash, it’s always best to consult your GP.
How Do You Treat Eczema In Children?
Parents can start with treatments at home for eczema. When your child is uncomfortable and itchy, here’s how to help:
- Avoid Scratching
Excessive scratching can make the skin raw and sore, which both increases your child’s discomfort and may make the rash more prone to infection. Check with your doctor about giving antihistamines to help cut down on the itching, and keep your child’s fingernails cut short. That way, if they do scratch, they will do less damage to the skin.
- Keep The Skin Hydrated
The goal of eczema treatment is skin hydration. First wash your child’s skin with a bland soap and then use a thick barrier ointment that traps the moisture inside the skin. Moisturising repairs the barrier function of the skin and goes a long way to treating eczema and decreasing itching and rash. However, make sure the moisturiser doesn’t contain any potentially irritating chemicals, such as perfumes or dyes.
- Avoid Triggers
Stress, allergies and even sweating can make eczema in children worse. Common irritants include dust, pets, chemicals, fragrances, foods and cigarette smoke. Your doctor can perform allergy tests to identify potential triggers for your child. Once these have been identified, limit your child’s exposure to them.
- Be Gentle With The Skin
Bath water should be cool or warm, never hot. Washing and drying should be done gently (i.e. no scrubbing) and body washes should be free from chemicals. Apply lotion while the skin is still damp.
Is Eczema Something to Worry About?
Eczema in children is a chronic condition, but it’s one you can help control. If the methods you try at home are not helping, try a topical anti-inflammatory medicine, such as hydrocortisone 1 percent that you can find at any pharmacy.
If the eczema still doesn’t respond, take your child to your GP who might prescribe hydrocortisone 2.5 percent for moderate eczema or triamcinolone 0.1 percent for severe eczema. Also, if a fever or pain accompanies the rash, your child should see a doctor.
If your child has eczema, you shouldn’t worry. Some children outgrow eczema completely, and some have only occasional flare-ups as they age.
* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.