Does My Child Have Eczema
Eczema can look different at different ages:
- Babies usually have a rash on their face and neck which may weep and crust.
- Children often have a dry rash, characteristically in the creases of knees and elbows, around the mouth, neck, wrists and ankles.
- From age 12, the it may be more widespread and severe.
When the skin is red, dry and itchy, it is known as a ‘flare-up’. It is common for the severity of eczema to change, sometimes it is very mild and other times it gets worse. Between flare-ups, people with eczema tend to have dry sensitive skin.
See your doctor to diagnose your child’s rash, as other skin conditions can look similar to eczema. Your doctor will examine the rash, ask you about how and when it began, and ask whether other family members have noticed a similar rash. This is because while not contagious, eczema may have a genetic basis and does tend to run in families. A child with eczema often has one or more relative with eczema or a related condition, such as asthma, hay fever or allergic conjunctivitis.
What Is An Eczema Flare
- Inflamed reddish brown or gray patches, especially on your hands, feet, chest, neck, and inside the bends of your elbows and knees
- Serious itching that worsens at night
- Dry skin that could get raw or swollen from scratching
- Small raised bumps that might crust or leak fluid
- Skin that thickens and cracks
These symptoms may go away for a while, then flare up again.
You may have chronic, or long-lasting, eczema. Or it might just flare up after you touch something or in certain settings.
Choice Of Topical Corticosteroid
There are different strengths of topical corticosteroids that can be prescribed depending on the severity of your eczema. Discoid eczema usually needs a stronger type of corticosteroid than other types of eczema.
You might be prescribed a cream to be used on visible areas, such as face and hands, and an ointment to be used at night or for more severe flare-ups.
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Eczema And Atopic Dermatitis Treatment
Your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid cream or ointment to apply to your rash. This will help reduce itching and calm inflammation. Use it right after bathing. Follow your doctors directions for using this medicine or check the label for proper use. Call your doctor if your skin does not get better with regular use of the medicine.
Antihistamines like hydroxyzine reduce itching. They can help make it easier to not scratch. A new class of drugs, called immunomodulators, works well if you have a severe rash. Two drugs in this class are tacrolimus and pimecrolimus. These drugs keep your immune system from overreacting when stimulated by an allergen. However, they can affect your immune system. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that these drugs be used only when other treatments dont work.
Try not to scratch the irritated area on your skin, even if it itches. Scratching can break the skin. Bacteria can enter these breaks and cause infection. Moisturizing your skin will help prevent itchiness.
When To See Your Doctor
Contact your doctor if eczema symptoms are serious enough to interfere with sleep and daily life or if they persist after home treatments. See your doctor right away about a skin infection, especially if you also have a fever. Red streaks, yellow scabs, and pus could all be signs of infection.
Mayo Clinic: Atopic dermatitis : âAlternative medicine,â âCauses,â âLifestyle and home remedies,â âRisk factors,â âTreatments and drugs.â
American Academy of Dermatology: âDifferent kinds of eczema,â âWhat is eczema?â
National Eczema Society: âTopical Steroids,â âWhat is Eczema?â
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: âWhat Is Atopic Dermatitis?â
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: âAntihistamines,â âEczema.â
National Eczema Association: âItching for relief.â
British Journal of Dermatology: âThe effect of environmental tobacco smoke on eczema and allergic sensitization in children.â
FDA: âFDA approves new eczema drug Dupixent.â
Mayo Clinic: âAtopic dermatitis .â
The National Eczema Association: âEczema Causes and Triggers.â
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When To See A Doctor
If a person has symptoms of eczema, they can consult with their doctor to receive a diagnosis and treatment. Because there is no specific test for the condition, a healthcare professional may ask about an individuals family history, including allergies, asthma, or hayfever.
A patch test may also help test for contact dermatitis, or a skin biopsy can rule out other possible conditions such as psoriasis.
How Long Do Eczema Symptoms Last
There are three common stages of eczema:
- Chronic lifelong occasional flare-ups, may improve with age
- Acute short-term eczema resulting from contact with an irritant, heals in a few weeks
- Subacute healing phase which can flare up again if unmanaged
If eczema is triggered by an irritant, it can take 2-4 weeks to heal with treatment.
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Q 1: How Can Infections Due To Eczema Be Prevented And Treated
People with eczema that is not well managed can be more likely to have skin infections with bacteria such as Staph , and viruses such as the cold sore virus.
People with eczema who have infections need to treat these as they occur. They may also need long term prevention strategies, such as diluted bleach baths, which can help prevent future skin infections.
Long term oral antibiotics can be helpful for people who suffer from recurrent infected eczema.
Eczema Coping Tips Avoid Changes In Temperature
Abrupt temperature and humidity changes can sometimes irritate the skin for example, going in and out of air-conditioned buildings on hot days or heated buildings on cold days.Hard physical activity or exercise that makes you sweat heavily can also trigger the itch of eczema.Suggestions include:
- In winter, dont overheat your house. Dress warmly when going outdoors and remove the extra layers as soon as you return.
- In summer, dont over cool your house. Air conditioners can dry out the air and irritate your skin.
- Avoid hard physical activity in hot weather. For example, do your gardening first thing in the morning, or in the evening when the sun is lower in the sky.
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Eczema Coping Tips Diet
In most cases, eczema isnt caused or made worse by diet. If you notice that your eczema seems to get worse after eating a particular food, you may be an exception to this. See your doctor or dietitian for proper allergy testing and dietary advice.Never self-diagnose or you risk depriving yourself of enjoyable and nutritious foods for no good reason. Unnecessarily avoiding certain foods can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
What Foods Should I Eat Or Avoid To Reduce My Risk Of Eczema
The connection between eczema and food allergies is unclear. If you have food allergies, then one of the reasons why you must avoid that food is that it may cause or worsen dermatitis. Examples of common allergies include peanuts, dairy, eggs, sugar, alcohol and gluten. Pay attention to what you eat. If your eczema flares up after you eat a certain food, then you might have an allergy to it.
If you dont have a food allergy then there are no foods, including chicken, that will cause or worsen your eczema.
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What Causes Discoid Eczema
The cause of discoid eczema is unknown, although it is often accompanied by dry skin and is thought to be triggered by irritation of the skin.
Discoid eczema tends to affect adults and is rare in children. It is more common among men aged from 50 to 70 and women in their teens or twenties.
Some people with discoid eczema may also have other types of eczema, such as atopic eczema.
Read more about the causes of discoid eczema.
Q : How Should Eczema Flares And Severe Eczema Be Treated
Skin damage can be prevented by applying creams or ointments prescribed by your doctor as soon as eczema is present. In contrast, not using enough of the treatments can cause skin damage due to itching, which can lead to scarring.
If prescribed, use topical corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors:
- These treatments actively treat inflammation .
- Ensure that adequate amounts are used. As a guide, one fingertip unit is the amount of ointment from the first bend in the finger to the fingertip, which will cover an area equal to two adult hands.
- Apply moisturiser after corticosteroid cream or ointment has been applied.
If prescribed, use a recently listed treatment for severe eczema. There are now two treatments for severe eczema that are listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in Australia for people aged 12 years or older with severe eczema which has not responded to other prescribed topical treatments:
- Dupixent® is an immune modulating treatment given by injection that is self-administered. Dupilumab works by modifying the bodys immune response to prevent inflammation that plays a central role in eczema, but it is not an immunosuppressant.
- Rinvoq® is a Janus Kinase 1 inhibitor, that is taken as an oral tablet. JAK enzymes create signals in the body’s immune system that result in inflammation, so JAK inhibitors work by blocking these signals. This reduces inflammation and the production of immune cells within the body.
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Eczema Coping Tips Good Hygiene
Skin affected by eczema is more vulnerable to a range of infections, including impetigo, cold sores and warts. The bacterium Staphylococcus aureus may cause a secondary infection of impetigo, and possibly contribute to the symptoms of eczema.Suggestions for washing include:
- Take lukewarm baths or showers, and avoid really hot showers.
- Dont use ordinary soap, as the ingredients may aggravate your eczema. Wash your body with warm water alone. For armpits and groin, use soap-free products, such as sorbolene cream.
- Bath oils can help to moisturise your skin while bathing.
- When towelling dry, pat rather than rub your skin.
General Tips For Coping With Eczema
Other tips to manage your eczema include:
- Keep your fingernails short longer nails are more likely to injure your skin when you scratch.
- If the water in your area is hard or alkaline, consider installing a water-softening device.
- Swim in the sea in warm weather whenever you can seawater is known to reduce the symptoms of eczema.
- Use sun exposure for limited periods for example, when swimming at the beach. This can help relieve eczema symptoms. But be aware that ultraviolet radiation is a risk factor for skin cancer and premature ageing of the skin. Also, if sun exposure causes overheating, this can also aggravate eczema.
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Whats The Difference Between Dermatitis And Psoriasis
Psoriasis and dermatitis can appear similar. Both cause patches of red skin. However, in psoriasis, the scales are thick and the edges of those scales are well-defined.
Discuss with your healthcare provider your questions about which type of skin condition you have. You can have more than one skin condition at a time. Treatments for one may not work for the other.
What Questions Might My Healthcare Provider Ask To Diagnose Eczema
The conversation with your healthcare provider will need to cover a lot of information. Be sure to be specific about your symptoms.
- Where is your eczema located?
- What have you used to try to treat your eczema?
- What medical conditions do you have? Allergies? Asthma?
- Is there a history of eczema in your family?
- How long have you had symptoms of eczema?
- Do you take hot showers?
- Is there anything that makes your symptoms worse?
- Have you noticed that something triggers or worsens your eczema? Soaps? Detergents? Cigarette smoke?
- Is there so much itchiness that you have trouble sleeping? Working? Living your normal life?
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What Are The Causes Of Eczema
Many factors can contribute to eczema, including an interaction between your environment and your genes. When an irritant or an allergen from outside or inside the body switches on the immune system, it produces inflammation, or a flare-up, on the surface of the skin. This inflammation causes the symptoms common to most types of eczema. Creases of the skin, especially the flexural areas behind the knees, elbows, lower legs and other areas of skin that rub against each other can lead to irritation. There is also a potential genetic component to eczema that includes a protein called filaggrin that helps maintain moisture in your skin a filaggrin deficiency can lead to drier, itchier skin.
Many common household items are also potential environmental irritants and can cause allergic reactions leading to an eczema flare. Additional common triggers of eczema may include:
- extended exposure to dry air, extreme heat or cold
- some types of soap, shampoo, bubble bath, body wash, facial cleansers
- laundry detergents and fabric softeners with chemical additives
- certain fabrics like wool or polyester in clothing and sheets
- surface cleaners and disinfectants
- natural liquids like the juice from fruit, vegetables and meats
- fragrances in candles
Triggers Of Eczema Flare
- Soaps. Never use bubble bath. It can cause a major flare-up.
- Pollens. Keep your child from lying on the grass during grass pollen season.
- Animals. Avoid any animals that make the rash worse.
- Foods. If certain foods cause severe itching , avoid them.
- Wool. Avoid wool fibers and clothes made of other scratchy, rough materials.
- Dry Air. Use a humidifier if the air in your home is dry.
- Herpes Virus Infection . Keep your child away from anyone with fever blisters . The herpes virus can cause a serious skin infection in children with eczema.
- Eczema is not caused by laundry soap you use to wash clothing.
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Practice Good Bath And Shower Etiquette
Take warm baths or showers and keep them short. Long, hot showers can dry out your skin, making it more prone to flare-ups. Use unscented bath products, and not too much of them. When youre done, use a soft towel to pat yourself dry. Dont rub. Slather moisturizer on your skin immediately after a shower, while your skin is still damp, to help your skin best absorb the moisture and lock it on.
How Long Do Flare
When people experience eczema flares, they can sometimes come on unexpectedly and manifest as lesions, redness, and itching. However, how long they last depends on the type of eczema and the other contributing factors.
For example, if a person with eczema is around another person smoking, they may experience a flare. If they continue to be around that person while they smoke, they may find it challenging to keep their symptoms at bay because their eczema trigger is still present.
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Why Has My Skin Become Itchy And Red
Many scientists believe that this skin issue is caused by the behavior of your immune system. When you come into contact with an irritating fabric, skincare product, or other triggers, your immune system may cause you to experience inflammation. This inflammation can lead to rashes and other skin issues.
Scientists also believe that this is a hereditary condition. In other words, if your parents suffered from this skin problem, you are more likely to develop flaky skin during your lifetime. In addition, having asthma and allergies can increase your risk of experiencing this problem.
Other Types Of Eczema
Eczema is the name for a group of skin conditions that cause dry, irritated skin. Other types of eczema include:
- atopic eczema the most common type of eczema, it often runs in families and is linked to other conditions such as asthma and hay fever
- contact dermatitis a type of eczema that happens when the skin comes into contact with a particular substance
- varicose eczema a type of eczema that usually affects the lower legs and is caused by problems with the flow of blood through the leg veins
Page last reviewed: 30 October 2019 Next review due: 30 October 2022
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What Are The Complications Of Eczema
Affected skin can be very itchy. The itchiness can cause sleep difficulties for your child or infant and scratching can also lead to breaking of the skin.
Broken skin may become infected with bacteria that commonly live on childrens hands. Bacterial infections may cause inflamed blisters which can weep and form crusts.
Warts and herpes can also infect eczema rash. Infection with herpes can cause serious problems and is an emergency which needs to be treated urgently. If someone has a cold sore, make sure to keep a distance from a child with eczema.
Medications And Prescribed Treatment
A variety of over-the-counter medications, like oral antihistamines and anti-itch cream can help manage the symptoms of a flare-up.
Symptoms of burning or inflammation can also be managed with acetaminophen , or an anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen .
In more severe cases, a doctor may prescribe an oral corticosteroid , or corticosteroid creams or ointments.
Topical steroids or topical corticosteroids are some of the most commonly prescribed treatments for eczema, as they can reduce inflammation and itching and allow the skin to repair and heal.
These creams vary by strength and should only be used on the affected area.
There is evidence that immunosuppressant drugs may also help manage eczema, which often occurs as a result of immune system overload.
Oral prescription options include azathioprine, cyclosporine, methotrexate, and mycophenolate mofetil.
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