How To Treat Eczema In Children
There is no cure for eczema, so treatment involves managing the symptoms and trying to avoid further exacerbations.
Treatments for eczema can vary from person to person. People should never self-diagnose or self-treat eczema and seek medical advice if they suspect it.
Treatments for eczema are often ongoing and people may need to modify the behavior in some way. Treatment usually involves
Baby Eczema Risk Factors And The Environment
While baby eczema is the result of immune-system dysfunction, likely from a genetic predisposition, studies have found a number of risk factors.
For example, a study published in February 2018 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health suggested that children have a higher risk of developing eczema if their mothers experienced high-stress situations during pregnancy.
In a study published in May 2018 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers in the United Kingdom analyzed the sociodemographic characteristics of about 675,000 children in a primary-care database. They found that the children were more likely to be diagnosed with eczema if they fit one of the following descriptions:
- Black Caribbean
- Of high socioeconomic status
Another study, published in May 2018 in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, looked at how the outdoor environment specifically air pollutants and meteorological conditions affected eczema risk in children of both sexes. The researchers concluded that high levels of carbon monoxide, ammonia, formaldehyde, lead, particulate matter, and ozone levels may all influence the development of infantile eczema.
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
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Diagnosing Eczema In A Child
As the symptoms of eczema differ with the child and his age, it can be difficult to perform a diagnosis. It is quite easy to confuse it with other skin-related illnesses such as psoriasis. However, if the dermatologist suspects eczema, he/she will perform the following steps.
- Perform an examination of the size, colour and area covered by the rash.
- Ask about the period of time that the rash has been around.
- Try to identify a phenomenon known as lichenification, which is the thickening of the skin due to friction or scratching.
- Recommend that the child meets with a dermatologist for a more comprehensive diagnosis.
- Ask about the childs medical history, especially about any allergies or skin diseases experienced by the child or close family members.
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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Does Breastfeeding Prevent Baby Eczema
There is some evidence that breastfed babies may be less likely to develop eczema. Although unproven, the antimicrobial properties in breast milk have also been studied as a type of treatment when directly applied to an eczema rash. To try this, rub a few drops of your liquid gold onto the rash regularly for a few days and watch for any reduction in symptoms.
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Clean Eczema Skin Rash: Gently wash the irritated area with purified lukewarm water and a soft, clean cotton cloth. A Hypochlorous solution like SkinSmart Antimicrobial® can be an excellent way to initially treat the rash and minimize the urge to scratch the itch. Its mild, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and eliminates harmful bacteria that can lead to infections.
Moisturize the Irritated Skin: Carefully rub a generous amount of a high-quality moisturizer like Vaniply® from Pharmaceutical Specialties, Inc. into the irritated areas. Vaniply is a mild and gentle ointment that helps soothe dry, irritated, itchy skin without a greasy feel. Vaniply will help prevent water loss, relieve and prevent dry, chapped, and cracked skin.
This process should be repeated at least twice a day and for as long as the skin irritation is visible. If the condition does not start visibly getting better or discomfort and itching persist consult your healthcare professional immediately.
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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.
Diagnosing Food Allergy And Eczema Flare
- Your child’s doctor may suggest the steps listed below:
- Remove the suspected food or foods from your child’s diet for 2 weeks. The eczema should greatly improve.
- Then give your child that food when the eczema is under good control. This is called a “challenge.”
- If the food is causing flare-ups, the eczema should become itchy and red. The flare-up should occur quickly within 2 hours of eating the food.
- If this occurs, avoid giving this food to your child. Talk to your child’s doctor about the need for any food substitutes.
- If the eczema does not flare-up, your child isn’t allergic to that food.
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What Caused My Babys Eczema
There is no single cause of atopic eczema. Eczema is a complex condition it is genetic but also involves an overactive immune response to environmental factors, which cause eczema flares. Because the atopic gene is hereditary, it runs in families, and is responsible for three conditions: eczema, asthma and hay fever.
Fifty per cent of people with eczema have an additional genetic element a difference in a skin protein called filaggrin which leads to further problems in the skin barrier. All atopic conditions can be linked to allergies in some people, but there are also many universal irritants, such as soap and heat.
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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Use A Humidifier For Eczema In Toddlers
Dry air tends to be a major contributor to dry skin. If your child has eczema, it is key that they maintain a certain level of moisture on their skin. Without it, the skin can become dry, itchy and cracked which can lead to painful infections. During the winter months, the air loses its moisture which causes the skin to become dry. The air is dry for your toddler will most definitely trigger their eczema. To prevent this, it is recommended to have your toddler sleep with a humidifier to prevent this, especially during the winter.
Does Your Child Need To See A Doctor About Eczema
Yes. Take your child to see your GP if your child:
- might have eczema for the first time
- is very itchy and uncomfortable
- has eczema thats weeping or bleeding
- has eczema that hasnt improved much after a few days, even though youve been treating it as usual
- is having trouble sleeping because the rash is so itchy
- has painful or eczema that has developed pus
- has eczema and is generally unwell for example, has a fever and/or is sweating, feeding poorly or tired.
You should also take your child to the GP if youre not sure whether the rash is eczema.
If your childs eczema doesnt improve with a combination of medical treatment and management at home, your GP might refer your child to a dermatologist. If the GP thinks your childs eczema might be from allergies, they might also refer you to an allergy and immunology specialist.
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What Is Baby And Toddler Eczema
Similar to adults, baby eczema is marked by red, itchy, inflamed skin. There are several types of eczema, and one called seborrheic dermatitis is the cause of cradle cap, which is unique to infants.4 Although there is no cure, a combination of preventative measures, avoiding triggers and managing symptoms like itching can help keep baby eczema under control.
Can You Control Eczema By Controlling Food Allergies
Many people think that controlling food allergies means eliminating foods. The problem with eliminating food such as dairy, dairy products, or egg from your childs diet is that it can cause nutritional deficiency. Therefore, incorporating in limited amount and frequency of these foods is a better option than complete removal of these foods from the diet. There is also the thought that introducing foods that may exacerbate eczema will help build tolerance for these foods as children get older.
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Did My Baby Develop Eczema Because I Couldnt Breastfeed
As eczema is caused by genetic factors, bottle-feeding a baby definitely cannot cause eczema. In fact, current research is divided, with some studies showing positive effects of breastfeeding and others showing no significant effects at all.
Neither is there enough evidence to advise pregnant or breastfeeding women to avoid specific foods to protect unborn children from atopic eczema or any other atopic condition.
Control The Itching For Eczema In Toddlers
Scratching is one of the major problems for a child who has eczema. Itching and scratching go hand in hand but come and go in vicious cycles. When the skin becomes dry, it is a sign that the skin is irritated which results in your child scratching. When your child scratches, it further irritates the skin which causes vicious flare-ups which only results in your child scratching further. If the skin is continuously moisturized, the likelihood of this occurring becomes slim to none unless your toddler is not being moisturized thoroughly.
To minimize the damage to be done if your child does scratch, keep their fingernails cut shower and clean so if they do have the urge to scratch, the risk of infection is nonexistent. Wearing long pants and sleeves . If the skin is covered, this decreases the chances of the skin being scratched as aggressively. Along with this, certain medications can be used to reduce itching such as oral antihistamines which are very effective when controlling itching caused by eczema.
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Is Eczema Different For Infants Or Toddlers Than It Is For Older Children
A painful, itchy rash on a babys face, torso or body may be eczema
Eczema looks and acts differently in infants and toddlers than it does in older children. The location and appearance of eczema changes as they grow, so its important to know what to look for during every stage of your infant or toddlers life.
Treatment For Seborrheic Dermatitis In Children
If the seborrheic dermatitis is mild, an OTC topical antifungal cream or medicated shampoo with ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, coal tar or zinc pyrithione, may be enough to control symptoms. It is OK to leave mild seborrheic dermatitis untreated if your child is not uncomfortable.
A seborrheic dermatitis rash on an infants head, neck and torso.
In more severe cases, a provider may prescribe topical steroids or TCIs to calm the inflammation. Oral antifungal agents may also be used.
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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.
A Healthy Alternative To Steroid Creams
Emu oil products offer better outcomes for eczema sufferers in the long run as the steroid creams commonly prescribed for this skin condition can often trigger topical steroid withdrawal syndrome.
Once she decided it was time to wean herself off the cream she did her research and came across Emu Joys products.
It only took a few days of applying emu oil twice daily for her flare-ups to quickly diminish and now she uses it twice daily to keep her skin calm and moisturized.
However, you can also add a drop of emu oil to your prescribed steroid cream as it helps to absorb the latter more deeply into the skins layers.
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What Causes Baby Eczema
Currently, we do not know the underlying cause of eczema. However, there are studies that show eczema is related to both genetic factors and environmental influences. There are some theories that suggest it has to do with a malfunction in the immune system that causes skin barrier breakdown. Research also finds that children who have asthma or hay fever have a 30% to 50% chance of having eczema. Eczema is not contagious .
One form of eczema, contact dermatitis, is caused by direct contact with a substance, such as an irritant or allergen. Irritants cause up to 80% of the reactions and 20% are usually caused by allergens. Irritants include:
Treatment For Child Eczema
Eczema remedies for kids are prescribed to provide some relief from the irritation and make kids comfortable. Use of PH-friendly soap and moisturiser is the basis of the treatment. Any specific medicine and dose will change based on the severity and extension of eczema, and it should only be employed under a doctors guidance.
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Where On The Body Can Eczema Appear
Eczema can appear in any area where your child has come into contact with one of their triggers.
For example, if they have a grass allergy and rolled around in the backyard, they might have rashes anywhere there was exposed skin.
A child could get eczema around the outside of their mouth after eating acidic foods, like pineapple, or in the folds of their skin if they were sweating.
If your child had eczema as a baby, you might think youre a pro at identifying it. However, the symptoms of eczema in toddlers are actually different from the symptoms in babies. As kids get older, the location of their rashes can change.
Babies are prone to rashes on their faces and heads remember cradle cap? Thats a kind of eczema! Toddlers and older kids are more likely to get eczema in the following areas:
- creases of their elbows
Is A Cure Or Better Treatment For Eczema On The Horizon
Without a cure on the near horizon, we here at Johns Hopkins are creating an Eczema Day Treatment Unit to help our patients with moderate to severe eczema keep their symptoms under control and prevent flare-ups. We anticipate that this novel, multidisciplinary program will include experts from Child Life, behavioral psychology, allergy, dermatology and infectious diseases to provide the comprehensive care these children need care that cannot be provided in an average clinic visit.
A primary goal of the day treatment unit will be education children and their families will learn techniques such as wet-wrap therapy, to help deeply moisturize the skin. This therapy involves coating the skin with a topical ointment, followed by a greasy ointment like petroleum jelly, then dressing in wet pajamas, followed by dry pajamas, allowing the skin to soak in the moisture.
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