Eczema Treatment For Children
With a good regimen of bathing, moisturizing and prescription medications , you can help your child be more comfortable
There is no one right treatment for eczema in children. What works for another child may not work for yours. You may have to go through several treatments or combinations of treatments in partnership with your doctor before you find one that helps manage your childs symptoms. Be persistent and patient as treating eczema can take several weeks or longer before you see real progress.
How Is Atopic Dermatitis Diagnosed In A Child
The healthcare provider will ask about your childs symptoms and health history. He or she may also ask if you or other family members have atopic dermatitis, asthma, or nasal allergies such as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. He or she will also ask about allergy symptoms in your child. The healthcare provider will examine your child, looking for signs of atopic dermatitis. There is no specific test for atopic dermatitis. Testing is usually not needed, but it may be done. Tests may include:
Blood tests. Your childs blood may be checked for levels of immunoglobulin E . IgE is released by the body’s immune system. Its high in most children with allergies and with atopic dermatitis. Other blood tests may also be done.
Skin tests. Skin tests may be done to check for allergies or other skin conditions.
Could That Rash Be Eczema
Here are some of the ways eczema can look different in infants, babies, and toddlers.
- Youll most likely see eczema on the face, cheeks, chin, forehead, and scalp, but it is generally not as common in the diaper area
- Features red or discolored skin with weepy- looking sores
- At 6 months, you may still see eczema on your babys face and neck
- Eczema commonly shows up on elbows and kneesthe places that are easy to rub or irritate as babies crawl
- Youre likely to notice eczema in the creases of their elbows and knees, or on their wrists and hands
- You might also see eczema near your little ones mouth or eyelids
Tips to help manage your babys eczema
- Use clothing and shade to protect your childs skin from the sun, especially if under 6 months
- Wash stuffed animals oftensoft toys attract dust which can trigger eczema
- Right after bath time, use a fragrance-free moisturizer
- Keep in mind that ointments are good barriers that help retain moisture in your skin
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Identify Your Babys Triggers
One of the most important things you can do for your babys eczema is to look for things in your environment that seem to trigger your babys flare-ups or make them worse. Products in your home could be causing or contributing to the problem.
In babies, the most common triggers are things that touch their skin. Rarely, environmental allergens like mold or pollen might be a trigger. Other known triggers that are rare in babies are infections and stress. Common triggers for babies are:
- harsh soaps and detergents
- rough or nonbreathable clothing fabrics
If your baby is having a particularly severe eczema flare-up, ask your pediatrician about doing a wet dressing, or wet wrap therapy. This treatment is sometimes used with prescription steroid cream under close medical supervision.
The wrap helps ensure that topical treatments stay moist and get better absorbed into the skin.
How to apply a wet dressing:
You can continue applying the wet dressing for 24 to 72 hours or overnight. Continue for a maximum of one week.
Before using wet wrap therapy, always discuss it with your pediatrician.
Natural Remedies For Baby Eczema
If you need some extra help soothing babys skin, these natural eczema treatments may make things better.
- Wet a washcloth. Drape cool, wet washcloths or gauze over your babys irritated skin for five to ten minutes at a time or however long you can get your squirmy worm to cooperate.
- Try an oatmeal bath. Sprinkle a bit of uncooked oatmeal, colloidal oatmeal or even baking soda into the tub when you wash your baby. All can naturally relieve eczema and irritation.
- Combat dry air. Running a cool-mist humidifier in your baby’s bedroom can help keep her skin super-hydrated. Clean it frequently to prevent bacteria and mold buildup.
- Dress your little one in layers. Sweating can reboot the eczema cycle, and thats the last thing you want. Layers let you customize babys outfit for toasty temps.
- Ask your pediatrician about probiotics. Studies are underway to see whether probiotics may ease eczema when added to dry baby formula or served as a dietary supplement. Get your doctor to weigh in before giving it a go.
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Eczema In Babies And Young Children
Eczema is the most common chronic skin disease in children, sometimes starting as early as infancy. If one or both parents have a history of eczema, asthma, or hay fever, your little one is more likely to develop eczema.
About 6 out of 10 people with eczema will see symptoms before their 1st birthday.
Avoid Triggers And Treat Infection
Getting too hot from clothing or heating can make eczema worse – stay cool.
Avoid soap and fragrances
Soap and fragrances are the most common triggers of eczema. Only use skin care products designed for eczema. Many are available on prescription from your doctor or nurse prescriber.
Prevent skin infections
Eczema is made worse by infection such as from:
- school sores
- the cold sore virus which can cause severe painful infection of eczema
Avoid contact with cold sores. See your family doctor urgently if your child gets an infection from cold sores.
Removing foods from your child’s diet does not usually help eczema
Removing foods from your child’s diet does not usually help eczema and can be dangerous, leading to anaphylaxis.
Please talk with your doctor about this.
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Other Types Of Eczema
Eczema is the name for a group of skin conditions that cause dry, irritated skin.
Other types of eczema include:
- discoid eczema a type of eczema that occurs in circular or oval patches on the skin
- contact dermatitis a type of eczema that occurs when the body comes into contact with a particular substance
- varicose eczema a type of eczema that most often affects the lower legs and is caused by problems with the flow of blood through the leg veins
- seborrhoeic eczema a type of eczema where red, scaly patches develop on the sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears and scalp
- dyshidrotic eczema a type of eczema that causes tiny blisters to erupt across the palms of the hands
Page last reviewed: 05 December 2019 Next review due: 05 December 2022
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.
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What To Do At Home
To help prevent hand eczema:
- Wear rubber or latex gloves to protect hands from harsh soaps and detergents when washing the dishes or cleaning.
- Use lukewarm water and a small amount of mild soap when washing your hands.
- Apply prescribed medicated creams and ointments after washing. Then apply a moisturizer.
- Use a fragrance-free, gentle moisturizer during the day. Some examples are: Dove®, Aveeno®, CeraVe®, Cetaphil®, Eucerin® and Aquaphor®.
- Wear warm cotton gloves outside in cold weather to prevent dry, chapped skin.
HH-I-380 6/15 Copyright 2015, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
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How To Tell If Your Child Has Eczema
Is it just a rash, or is it a more serious skin condition? Dermatologist Dr. Anna Kirkorian shares four ways you can spot signs of eczema on your child.
Kids get skin rashes from time to time, so when your little one has red patches on their face, how do you know if its eczema or another skin condition such as heat rash, acne or hives? Dermatologist Dr. Anna Kirkorian shares four ways you can spot signs of eczema on your child.
Location Plays A Big Part
Babies from 1 month to 2 years old tend to get eczema on their cheeks and scalp. Older children will generally have it on the folds of their wrists, knees and ankles. If your child has a red, itchy and scaly rash that isnt in a classic location for eczema, it could be allergic contact dermatitis, meaning they might be allergic to something theyre coming into contact with such as soap, shampoo or lotion.
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Why Did My Child Develop Eczema
The exact cause of eczema is unknown. Researchers do know that children who develop eczema do so because of a combination of genes and environmental triggers. When something outside the body switches on the immune system, skin cells dont behave as they should causing flare ups.
We also know that children who come from families with a history of atopic dermatitis, asthma, or hay fever are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis.
How Is Eczema Treated
There is no cure for eczema. But treatments can help with symptoms. The doctor will recommend different treatments based on how severe the symptoms are, the child’s age, and where the rash is. Some are “topical” and applied to the skin. Others are taken by mouth.
Topical moisturizers. Skin should be moisturized often . The best time to apply moisturizer is after a bath or shower, with the skin patted dry gently. Ointments and creams are best because they contain a lot of oil. Lotions have too much water to be helpful.
Topical corticosteroids, also called cortisone or steroid creams or ointments. These ease skin inflammation. It’s important not to use a topical steroid prescribed for someone else. These creams and ointments vary in strength, and using the wrong strength in sensitive areas can damage the skin, especially in infants.
Other topical anti-inflammatory medicines. These include medicines that change the way the skin’s immune system reacts.
Medicine taken by mouth. These can include antihistamines to help itchy kids sleep better at night, antibiotics if a rash gets infected by bacteria, and corticosteroid pills or other medicines that suppress the immune system.
Other types of treatment can include:
- wet wraps: damp cloths placed on irritated areas of skin
- bleach baths: bathing in very diluted bleach solution
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What Triggers My Childs Eczema Or Causes It To Get Worse
Some of the most common eczema triggers include:
Even your babys stuffed animals may be a trigger for eczema
- Dry skin
- Allergens such as pet dander, pollen or dust
Your childs eczema may be worse in the winter when the air is dry. Saliva from drooling can also cause irritation on your babys cheeks, chin and neck.
The best way to manage your childs eczema is by getting to know their symptoms and triggers so that you can help keep it under control.
What Should I Look For When Selecting Skin Care Products
Choose soaps and moisturizers made for sensitive skin. Although there is no single group of products that are right for every child, generally, products with fewer ingredients are best. Expensive products are not always better. If you need help finding products for your child, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
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How Does Baby Eczema Differ From Dry Skin
Dry skin is a symptom of eczema. Your pediatrician can diagnose eczema by examining your baby’s skin. He or she may send you to a pediatric dermatologist for confirmation and treatment if the condition is severe.
In general, dry skin can be handled at home with some moisturizer and isnt as bothersome as eczema. However, babies with darker skin tend to have drier skin than those with lighter skin making moisturization even more crucial.
How Do You Treat Them
If your child has symptoms, see a doctor. There are lots of ways to control eczema and allergies.
- Tests. Your doctor may want to test your child for allergies to foods — like milk, egg, peanut, soy, seafood, and wheat — and other substances. Positive results from allergy testing need to be confirmed.
- Food elimination diets. If your doctor suggests it, you can cut out common trigger foods, one at a time. That will help you figure out if a food is to blame.
- Ointments and moisturizers. These products can ease mild eczema symptoms. Choose one thatâs thick, and put it on right after your child gets out of a bath or shower.
- Medication.Steroid creams can relieve more severe symptoms.
Get more information on eczema treatment.
Follow these steps to stop the problem before it starts.
- Allergy-proof your home, so your child won’t be exposed to high levels of things like dust mites and dander.
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How Can I Deal With Eczema
You may need a moisturizer to control the dryness and itchiness. Some people need stronger medicines called corticosteroids. Steroid ointment or cream rubbed on skin can help calm the inflammation .
Your doctor might suggest you try an antihistamine, a medicine that’s either a pill to swallow or a liquid. It can help control the itching and help you sleep at night. If all that scratching leads to an infection, you may need an antibiotic. None of these eczema medicines will cure you forever, but they can help make your skin more comfortable and less red.
Here are some other important steps to take:
What Does It Look Like
The signs of eczema in infants include itchy, dry and scaly skin, redness and swelling of the skin and small bumps that open and weep when scratched. In infants and young children, eczema is usually found on the face, outside of the elbows, and on the knees.
In older children and adults, eczema tends to be on the hands and feet, the arms, and on the back of the knees.Keep in mind that all patches of dry skin are not eczema. The cold, dry outdoor air and indoor heating can dry all babies skin in winter, causing dry patches. In children prone to dry skin, so can the sun, air conditioning, and pool and salt water.
We dermatologists usually say if its not itchy, its not eczema you cant make a diagnosis of eczema unless there is an itchiness that goes with the rash. Babies with cradle cap, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, can also have a wide-spread rash, which is not eczema in itself. But it is common for cradle cap and eczema to co-exist in the first several months of life.
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What Causes Eczema In Infants And Children
Eczema is brought about by the complex interplay of a genetic predisposition and the childs environment. Many things from the climate to possible allergens can cause eczema to flare. We know that eczema tends to run in the families with a predisposition to other atopic diseases, such as food allergies, asthma and hay fever. Individuals with atopic dermatitis may lack certain proteins in the skin, which leads to greater sensitivity. Parents with eczema are more likely to have children with eczema. However, the exact way it passes from parents to children is still not known. Most children who have eczema will show signs of the condition in the first year of life. It tends to wax and wane in severity.
What Causes Eczema To Wax To Flare
Different “triggers” can make eczema worse. For infants, these can be irritants such as wool, certain detergents or extreme temperatures, or other immune triggers, such as food allergies and asthma, and even pet dander.
Most kids with the condition have the hardest time in winter, when the air is cold and dry. A small percentage has a harder time in the summer, when it is hot and humid.
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Things You Can Do When Your Childs Eczema Gets Bad
- By Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire
Its winter, and in many parts of the country that means cold, windy weather and dry, chapped skin. For all of us that can be a problem, but for people who have eczema it can be miserable.
As a pediatrician, I have lots of patients with eczema. Each one of them is different, of course, with different triggers for their eczema and different therapies that help. But when eczema gets bad when parts of the skin get very irritated and scaly there are three things that help just about everybody.
1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! This may seem obvious, but I cant overstate its importance and helpfulness. When it comes to picking a moisturizer, think greasy when eczema gets tough. This kind of moisturizer is called an emollient. Even just petroleum jelly, or hydrated petrolatum, which are both widely available, can really help dry, irritated skin. And while they feel greasy when you put them on, usually the skin soaks them right up. Applying emollients two or three times a day can really help when things get tough and can also help prevent eczema from flaring.
Right after the bath you want to put on any steroids or moisturizers. And then, you might want to consider
As with any chronic medical condition, eczema is best managed when you work together with your doctor and come up with a plan both for treating flares and for preventing them in the first place.