How Do I Prevent My Child With Eczema Having Flare
The goal of treating eczema is to prevent and minimise flare-ups, as well as maintain skin health between flare-ups.
Moisturisers should be used between flare-ups to keep the skin in good condition, reduce the itch associated with dry skin and reduce the chance of infections. It is important to moisturise after showering or bathing once the skin is dry.
People with eczema have sensitive skin so irritants should be avoided. This includes many soaps and moisturisers. Your pharmacist can help you choose products suitable for eczema.
Trying to avoid triggers is worthwhile. Food allergies are not common eczema triggers. It is important not to put your child on a diet without medical advice, as nutrition for children shouldn’t be compromised unnecessarily.
What Does Eczema Look Like
In babies with paler skin, when eczema is flaring the skin is red and itchy. In babies with darker skin, the irritated, itchy areas may be red but are more likely to show as darker patches. They may also appear paler around the front or back of knees or elbows.
When an area of darker skin is treated for eczema, it may become lighter and may take several months to return to the babys normal skin tone.
Managing Babys Eczema: Other Lifestyle Tips
Bathing and moisturizing are the cornerstones of baby eczema management, but they arent the only ways to manage baby eczema. Follow these other tips to help soothe your babys skin:
Moderate or severe eczema requires more in-depth care than mild eczema. The tips in the linked article may help you develop a detailed routine based on babys eczema severity.
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New Innovations In The Treatment Of Eczema In Children
Tacrolimus ointment this is an investigational ointment currently being tested in the U.S. for the treatment of eczema. It suppresses the part of the immune system that is responsible for the eczema rash and itching. This ointment is showing great promise, and will hopefully be available soon. It appears to be just as effective as steroid creams but does not have many of the side effects that the steroids have.
Managing Eczema In Winter And Year Round: A Parents Guide
Cold, dry outdoor air and indoor heating can rob skin of its natural moisture in the winter. Red, crusty, dry patches can be common on a baby’s skin, particularly in winter, and cause concern for parents. Such symptoms can be treated, however, and many babies and children do outgrow the dry, itchy skin of atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema.
We spoke with pediatric dermatologist Katherine Puttgen to learn more.
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The Atopic March Food Allergies And Eczema
Eczema and food allergies are very closely related. They are both considered allergic conditions, and they are both part of a progression known as the atopic march.
What is the atopic march? According to the atopic march, children with one allergic condition are at increased risk for others, and allergic conditions often appear in a certain order. In other words, one condition usually marches in front of the other, in a fairly predictable lineup.
Eczema comes before food allergies in the atopic march. This means babies usually develop eczema before food allergies, and babies with eczema are at the highest risk for food allergies.
But even though food allergies and eczema are closely related, and even though some symptoms may look similar, eczema rash is not the same as a food allergy reaction.
Food allergy rashes appear as raised bumps, which look different from the red, scaly rash of eczema. Learn more about how to tell the difference between a food allergy reaction and an eczema flare-up.
When To Talk To Your Doctor About Baby Eczema
Always talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about your babys skin. Thanks to telemedicine, a video visit or quick photo is often all that’s needed to check for eczema.
Occasionally, infections develop on top of an eczema rash. If you see any yellow-colored crusting and scabbing, oozy skin, blisters or pus bumps, be sure to call your doctor right away. Always call if your baby has a fever. Your baby may need an antibiotic and to be evaluated in person.
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Two Types Of Eczema Your Baby Could Have: Atopic Dermatitis Or Contact Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis is the type of eczema that runs in the family. Food allergies, hay fever, and environmental allergies may be related to flare-ups of atopic dermatitis.
Contact dermatitis occurs when an irritant or allergen comes into contact with your babyâs skin, causing an allergic reaction in the form of a rash â in other words, eczema.
Will My Baby Outgrow Eczema
Many babies who develop eczema in their first year eventually outgrow eczema by the time they start elementary school. Other children outgrow it by their early teens. Still others dont completely outgrow eczema by these ages, but notice that their eczema is less severe as they get older.
But eczema, especially chronic eczema, can also be lifelong. Some babies never outgrow eczema, and have the condition for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, theres no cure for eczema, and no way to tell whether your little one will outgrow it.
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Is Milk Or Food Allergy A Problem And Should I Make Any Changes To My Babys Diet
Dietary allergy can occur in any child usually between three months and two years of age. Babies with eczema have a slightly higher risk of allergy, but lots of babies with eczema have no milk or other food allergy.
A baby with an immediate allergic reaction may have a sudden flare of eczema, become very itchy or start to wheeze, while a baby with a delayed reaction is more likely to have colic, reflux, vomiting and reluctance to feed.
If you think your baby has a food allergy, keep a diary, note any reactions, and ask for a referral to a paediatric dermatologist or allergist.
The vast majority of food allergy is limited to nine food groups: milk, egg, peanut, soya, wheat, tree nuts, sesame, shellfish and kiwi. Diagnosing food allergy in children up to the age of three is based on a history of symptoms. Treatment involves avoiding the food and then gradually reintroducing it. The only exceptions are peanut and shellfish as these are lifelong allergies.
Whatever happens, dont change your babys diet unless youve been advised to by a healthcare professional, as this may affect your babys growth and development.
What Does Baby Eczema Look Like
Eczema doesn’t look the same on every baby. In babies with light skin, it usually shows up as patches of red skin. In darker-skinned babies, the rash might look purplish, brownish, or grayish. Eczema can be harder to see on babies with dark skin.
These patches are almost always dry, itchy, and rough.
Babies can get the condition just about anywhere on their body. Most often, it affects their cheeks and the joints of their arms and legs.
Its easy to confuse baby eczema with cradle cap. But there are some key differences.
Cradle cap is much less itchy and irritated. It generally clears up by age 8 months and usually appears on the scalp, sides of the nose, eyelids and eyebrows, and behind the ears. See a photo of what cradle cap looks like.
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Should I Worry About Using The Topical Steroids Prescribed By My Healthcare Professional
No, you dont need to worry, as long as you follow your healthcare professionals specific instructions. Topical steroids are first-line treatments for babies with eczema. These creams have been used to treat eczema for more than 50 years, so there is a good understanding of how they work.
If you dont treat the eczema promptly and adequately, skin damage is far more likely to occur through scratching into the deeper layers of skin.
What Are The Side Effects Of Steroid Ointments
Luckily, there are usually no side effects from steroid ointments on patches of dry skin. We use the lowest potency possible to control the inflammation and for the shortest duration possible. With diligent lubrication and moisturizing, eczema is often managed easily without the need for high potency or a long course of steroids.
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Use Skin Medications When Needed
For some babies and children with eczema, daily bathing and moisturizing is not enough for good control. These children also need a medical treatment plan, which often includes medicated creams or ointments that calm the immune system in the skin and control irritation. Medical treatment plans also include instructions on how often and when to apply the cream or ointment.
There are a variety of skin medications available for eczema, each with a different strength. The strength of the medication prescribed should be right for the area of the body that needs medication. For example, a child may have one medication prescribed for the face and another one for the elbows and knees. Do not use the percent on the label to judge the strength of your child’s medication. Speak to your child’s doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about medication strength.
Follow the treatment plan provided by your child’s doctor, so your child gets the most possible benefit from the medication. It is especially important to follow your doctor’s advice about how much of the medication to apply, so you do not use too little or too much. Some doctors recommend applying a layer of medication to eczema patches every day for about two to four weeks. The medication is more effective if you apply it to skin immediately after the bath, while the skin is still damp.
Medical Treatment For Eczema
Eczema cant be cured. But it can be managed by preventing and treating flare-ups as soon as they appear.
If your childs skin is inflamed and itchy, theyll probably need some corticosteroid ointment or cream. For mild eczema, you can buy mild corticosteroids over the counter at your pharmacy. The most common is hydrocortisone 1% cream. For more serious eczema or if the over-the-counter products arent working, youll need to see your GP to get a prescription for a stronger corticosteroid.
Other eczema treatments include pimecrolimus, a non-steroidal cream. Doctors might prescribe this cream for children with mild to moderate eczema on the face and in body folds.
If your child is scratching at a rash, you could ask your pharmacist or GP about using an antihistamine medication for a few days. Together with a corticosteroid cream, this might give your child some rest and help the flare-up to settle.
If your childs eczema rash gets infected, your doctor will prescribe a course of oral antibiotics.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Eczema
The signs of eczema :
- are mainly dry, itchy skin. Because it is so itchy, it is often called “the itch that rashes.”
- include redness, scales, and bumps that can leak fluid and then crust over
- tend to come and go. When they get worse, it is called a flare-up.
- may be more noticeable at night
Symptoms can vary:
- Infants younger than 1 year old usually have the eczema rash on their cheeks, forehead, or scalp. It may spread to the knees, elbows, and trunk .
- Older kids and teens usually get the rash in the bends of the elbows, behind the knees, on the neck, or on the inner wrists and ankles. Their skin is often scalier and drier than when the eczema first began. It also can be thicker, darker, or scarred from all the scratching .
What Are The Differences Between The Skin Symptoms Of Food Allergy And Eczema
An allergic reaction to a food typically happens quickly. Symptoms of an allergic reaction then go away, usually after several hours, as long as the food is not eaten again. Eczema is a chronic condition that does not go away quickly. Eczema tends to show up in predictable places, such as on the cheeks of young babies or elbow creases of older children. The places on the skin where symptoms of an allergic reaction to food appear are more unpredictable. Hives, redness and itching from an allergic reaction can show up just about anywhere on the body and even in different places each time the food is eaten.
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Helping Your Child Feel Better
If your child has eczema, keep their fingernails short and their skin moisturized. Dress them in loose-fitting clothes and make sure they don’t get overheated. Depending on how severe their eczema is, your doctor may recommend wet wraps, a diluted bleach bath, over-the-counter or prescription medications, and/or light therapy to help.
Why Do I Have Eczema And Not Him
As your children grow up, youre faced with many challenges regarding their feelings about eczema. Everyone in the home or family will go through many emotions ranging from Guilt, anger, frustration, sympathy and much more. All parties will feel these emotions, its not just the parents.
My oldest son who has bad eczema from birth has asked me many times Why do I have eczema But he has never asked me why his younger brother doesnt suffer from eczema. Maybe hes a very strong and sensitive young man who cares for his brother too much to ask that question. Or maybe he has asked this question to himself but never vocalized it out loud. Then, there are your emotions and this is a rollercoaster ride for me.
One day Im glad I only have one son who suffers, but then I find it so unfair that my oldest has had to suffer on his own. This may sound harsh but Its the thoughts that go through your head every day.
Of course, I wish no one had suffered including myself but you will come across all these emotions if you find yourself in the same situation as I did.
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Food Allergy And Eczema Flare
- Food allergies are a factor in 30% of young children with severe eczema. This factor is mainly seen in babies.
- The main allergic foods are cow’s milk and eggs.
- The main symptoms are increased skin redness and itching. Some parents report these symptoms start during or soon after the feeding.
- The eczema becomes easier to control if you avoid the allergic food.
Emollients And Fire Safety
Lotions, creams or ointments used to moisturise your childs skin are also known as emollients.
Emollients are very effective at treating chronic dry skin conditions, such as eczema.
But it is important to be aware of the fire risk linked with them.
Emollients won’t cause a fire on their own. But if there is a build-up of emollient residue on clothing and bedding, this can quicken the speed of a fire.
Do not smoke near your baby or allow them near naked flames:
- while they are wearing emollient
- if they are wearing clothes or bandages that may have emollient on them
There is a fire risk with all paraffin-containing emollients. There may also even be a fire risk with paraffin-free emollients. There might also be a fire risk with other products that you put on skin over large body areas for more than a few days.
Washing clothing or fabric at a high temperature may reduce emollient build-up. But it might not totally remove it.
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How Do I Tell The Difference
The difference between eczema and dry skin is simply, dry skin is exactly that, dry. Its caused when the skin lacks water in the upper layer of the skin, the epidermis. Dry skin is often triggered by low humidity in the surrounding air, so its more common in colder months and drier climates. However, there may be other triggers like too many hot baths or showers, Hormonal changes, detergents or strong soaps.
The main areas normally affected by dry skin are the Hands, lower legs, and forearms. Normally the symptoms are itchiness, pale or dull skin and dry flaky skin. However, the condition normally wont cause anything worse than an irresistible urge to scratch and dry skin appearance.
People with mild eczema may only have small areas of dry skin that are occasionally itchy. In more severe cases, atopic eczema can cause widespread red, inflamed skin all over the body and constant itching. Scratching can cause the skin to break with can lead to flare-ups, infection and high temperatures.
Other side effects of eczema can be lack of sleep due to scratching, low morale and depression due to the constant care needed and the pain and suffering eczema can cause. The skin can become darker and leather-like patches due to long-term use of steroid creams. Long-term use of steroids can also lead to low testosterone levels in males.
How Can I Help My Child Live With Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis has no cure. But it will usually get better or go away as your child gets older. There may be times when your child has few or no symptoms. And he or she may have times when symptoms get worse. This is called a flare-up. To help prevent flare-ups, make sure your child:
Stays away from triggers. Common triggers include irritants such as wool, soap, or chemicals. Other triggers include allergens such as eggs, dust mites, or pet dander. Stress is also a trigger.
Doesnt scratch the skin. Try to keep your child from scratching. It can cause symptoms to get worse. It can also cause infection.
Always has short fingernails. Trim or file your childs nails to keep them short and prevent scratching.
Takes baths or showers with warm, not hot, water. Air dry or gently dry the skin afterward.
Uses moisturizers. Put creams or ointments on after bathing.
Wears soft clothing. Dont dress your child in wool or other rough fabric.
Keeps cool. Try to keep your child as cool as possible. Getting hot and sweating can make him or her more uncomfortable.
Doesnt get the smallpox vaccine. Its not a common vaccine, but people with atopic dermatitis should not get the smallpox vaccine.
Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about other ways to help your childs skin condition.
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