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What Causes Eczema In Babies And Toddlers

What Caused My Babys Eczema

What causes Eczema flare up in children? – Dr. Ramesh Babu N

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.

Causes Of Atopic Eczema

The exact cause of atopic eczema is unknown, but it’s clear it is not down to one single thing.

Atopic eczema often occurs in people who get allergies. “Atopic” means sensitivity to allergens.

It can run in families, and often develops alongside other conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.

The symptoms of atopic eczema often have certain triggers, such as soaps, detergents, stress and the weather.

Sometimes food allergies can play a part, especially in young children with severe eczema.

You may be asked to keep a food diary to try to determine whether a specific food makes your symptoms worse.

Allergy tests are not usually needed, although they’re sometimes helpful in identifying whether a food allergy may be triggering symptoms.

What Does Eczema In Children Look Like

Eczema in young children and babies usually presents as a painful and itchy rash. It can appear anywhere on the face or body, but usually not the groin area. A rash on the groin area is more likely to be nappy rash.

The location and appearance of eczema tends to be different in younger children and babies than in older children and adults. Here are the symptoms of eczema to look out for during each stage of your little ones development.

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What You Can Do

You can help reduce your child’s discomfort by:

  • keeping their fingernails short to reduce the damage to their skin from scratching
  • washing them with aqueous cream instead of soap – ask your pharmacist about aqueous creams and always follow the instructions on the product
  • using non-biological detergent and a double rinse cycle when washing their clothes or bedding
  • avoiding herbal, ‘natural’ or alternative creams – these can make eczema worse, as they may contain bacteria or high doses of steroids
  • rinsing and drying them well after swimming
  • dressing them in cool, breathable fabrics like cotton
  • keeping them away from anyone with a cold sore – as the cold sore virus can cause eczema to become infected
  • using extra moisturiser on areas your child scratches a lot
  • avoiding anything you know that causes your childs eczema to get worse

Around 6 out of 10 children with eczema will grow out of it by the time they’re teenagers.

Is Eczema Different For Infants Or Toddlers Than It Is For Older Children

In This Article

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.

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What Should I Do If My Babys Eczema Gets Worse

If your baby has wet, weepy skin and their eczema is not getting better with steroids, their skin may be infected and they may need antibiotics. If your babys eczema flare does not get better with the standard treatments recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence , your GP should refer them to a dermatology specialist. If they suspect an allergy, they should refer them to an allergist or joint dermatologyallergy clinic.

Foods To Avoid In Babies And Toddlers With Eczema

Eczema can be a frustrating and uncomfortable issue to deal with.

It can be especially difficult to manage in infants and toddlers, as many factors can contribute to the severity of your childs symptoms.

In some cases, making changes to your childs diet can help reduce symptoms, and eliminating certain foods from their diet may even help prevent flare-ups.

Here are 7 foods to consider avoiding for babies and toddlers with eczema. Keep in mind that its always best to speak with a healthcare professional before eliminating foods from your childs diet.

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What Causes Baby Eczema What Are The Most Common Triggers That Can Make Baby Eczema Worse We Answer These Questions For Families

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that affects 10 to 20% of babies and children. Atopic dermatitis most often first appears between the age of 2 to 6 months, and can be found on the scalp, face , neck, trunk, between the elbows, behind the knees, on the wrists, ankles, and feet. Eczema is red, rough itchy skin and it needs to be treated properly in order to improve. Every childs eczema looks different–cases can be mild, moderate, or severe.

Is Milk Or Food Allergy A Problem And Should I Make Any Changes To My Babys Diet

Baby Eczema – Causes, Signs and Treatment

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.

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Allergic Causes Of Eczema In Infants

Eczema can be a sign, usually the first sign, of a malfunction in the immune system. Instead of ignoring harmless substances like pollen, food, and dust, the immune system releases histamines that cause itchiness when it comes into contact with these things. This is a kind of allergic reaction.

That is why antihistamine medications like Benadryl and Zyrtec can control eczema for some people. Most often in babies, pet dander, pollens, or mold cause this histamine response.

Food allergies can sometimes cause eczema. Dr. Peter Lio, Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Pediatrics at Northwestern University and Founding Director of Chicago Integrative Eczema Center, spoke to the National Eczema Foundation and said that, there is a group of people who have food reactions that look like an eczema flare-up rather than specific hives, and can take days to manifest.

The only way to determine if a food allergy is the cause of eczema is to remove the food and see if symptoms heal. In babies, cows milk allergy is the biggest culprit. In older children, it can be soy or wheat.

If you believe a food allergy may be the cause of your babys eczema, discuss with your pediatrician how to safely try an elimination diet.

Causes Of Baby Eczema

The exact cause of baby eczema is not known. However, it is suggested that genetic and environmental factors play critical roles in the development of skin inflammation .

Eczema may often be associated with a lack of filaggrin, which is a skin barrier protein. Filaggrin protects the skin from environmental irritants and bacteria by preventing their entry into the skin. Many children who have eczema usually have too little of this strong barrier protein in their skin .

Triggers such as irritants could activate the immune system, thus causing skin damage as a result of inflammatory response.

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When Should I Take My Child To The Doctor For Their Eczema

If you think your child might have eczema, make an appointment with your pediatrician. A trained eye can tell the difference between eczema and other skin conditions.

Speak to your childs doctor right away if skin appears infected , if the eczema seems painful and blistered, or if it’s preventing your child from sleeping or is just generally making them miserable.

What You Need To Know

Tips for treating Toddler Eczema

Symptoms of eczema in babies and children are similar to those seen in adults. Marked by red, itchy and inflamed skin, especially on the face, as well as the creases of the elbows and legs, infant eczema usually has the same causes and triggers as adult eczema.1 However, the sensitive nature of young skin can require additional precautions to help prevent flare-ups. The best first step for managing baby eczema is talking to your pediatrician or dermatologist, who will likely recommend specially-formulated washes, lotions, creams or other products to help keep the skin moisturized. Other ingredients such as ceramides that help maintain baby’s delicate skin barrier and calming ingredients such as niacinamide can be helpful as well.2

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Introducing Allergens To Babies With Eczema

Introducing common allergenic foods to eczema babies early and often may be especially beneficial.

New dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend the early, frequent introduction of peanut, particularly for babies who have eczema.

According to the USDAs new Dietary Guidelines, if an infant has severe eczema…age-appropriate, peanut containing foods should be introduced into the diet as early as age 4 to 6 months. This introduction is especially important for babies with eczema, because of their increased food allergy risk.

Also, as other international medical guidelines state, early introduction of other common food allergens may be beneficial for eczema babies as well.

For instance, guidelines from the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology recommend that babies with eczema be introduced to allergenic foods, such as egg and peanut, as early as 4 months of age.

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All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your babys health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

See the FDA Peanut Allergy Qualified Health Claim at the bottom of our homepage.

When To See Your Healthcare Provider

Itâs a good idea to see your provider if you think your little one might have eczemaâthat way your provider can diagnose it and recommend treatment, if itâs needed.If your babyâs eczema is severeâif it looks purple, crusty, or weepy, or has blistersâyour provider might prescribe an over-the-counter or prescription cream or ointment.If your baby has only mild eczema, your provider might recommend no treatment at all and recommend waiting to see if it clears on its own.

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How Often Should I Bathe My Baby

If your baby has eczema, a daily bath with an emollient will help soothe the eczema and reduce dry skin and itching, while cleansing the skin, removing dirt and repairing the skin barrier. Use leave-on emollients instead of soaps, baby washes or bubble bath, or alternatively use emollient wash products or bath additives. Avoid any perfumed products and keep the water tepid, as heat can aggravate eczema.

Baby Eczema Risk Factors And The Environment

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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:

  • Male
  • 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.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Toddler Eczema

Dermatologists have a saying: If its not itchy, its not eczema. These are some of the other hallmarks of eczema in toddlers:

  • Dry, scaly, rough patches of skin that may appear red and inflamed
  • Rash, which may have small, raised bumps that bleed or ooze when scratched
  • Skin that becomes thick, dark, and leathery when excessively scratched

Eczema can occur on any part of the body, but in toddlers, its most likely to appear:

  • In the creases of the knees and elbows
  • On the wrists, hands, and ankles
  • Around the mouth and eyelids

Atopic Dermatitis Asthma And Allergies

Atopic dermatitis can exist with other known medical conditions. These other conditions are called comorbidities.

Atopic dermatitis is part of a group of allergic conditions. In fact, atopic means allergy. These include, asthma, hay fever and food allergies. If a child has one of these conditions, the likelihood of developing another atopic condition is increased. Contact dermatitis is also considered atopic, though its connection to asthma and hay fever is unknown.

About 50 percent of children with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis develop allergic asthma. Symptoms of allergic asthma include:

  • Coughing

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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.

How To Give Your Baby An Antiseptic Bath

Eczema in Children

You should only give your baby an antiseptic bath when they have active eczema. This is when their skin is infected or very itchy, dry, and red.

Antiseptic baths are perfectly safe when prepared and carried out the correct way. To do this:

  • fill your bath or tub with enough warm water – please read our Bathing page for how to do this safely.
  • add bleach and mix well, following these ratios:
  • for bleach that is 4.2% strength add 1 ml for every litre of water
  • for bleach that is 3.1% strength add 1.3 ml for every litre of water
  • for bleach that is 2.1% strength add 2 ml for every litre of water
  • soak in the bath for between 10 – 15 minutes, always keeping one hand on your baby
  • wash with non-soap cream
  • rinse off with tap water
  • pat skin dry with a towel
  • apply a steroid cream and/or moisturizer straight afterwards.
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    When Should My Baby Go To The Doctor For Eczema Treatment

    If your baby has symptoms of eczema and at-home treatments have not helped, make an appointment with your pediatrician.

    If your baby’s eczema is crusty, oozing fluid, or if your baby is showing any other signs of infection , call your pediatrician right away. Eczema rashes can become infected and may require antibiotic treatment.

    What Causes Eczema In Toddlers

    Before you panic that your child will have lifelong bouts of itchy rashes, its important to remember that some kids are just prone to eczema because of their unique skin makeup. And even thats not always fixed or permanent.

    Theres no way to predict what will happen in the future, but lots of kids outgrow their eczema when they reach their preschool years.

    Your child is more likely to have eczema if they also have:

    • a family history of eczema
    • asthma

    Food allergies dont cause eczema, but they are related.

    According to a , other conditions that may be related to eczema may include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder.

    For the most part, though, environmental triggers are the biggest cause of eczema flares. Common triggers include:

    • excessive heat or sweating

    Although eczema is bothersome and often hard to treat, you can take some steps to get your toddlers eczema under control.

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    When To Seek Medical Advice

    See a GP if you have symptoms of atopic eczema. They’ll usually be able to diagnose atopic eczema by looking at your skin and asking questions, such as:

    • whether the rash is itchy and where it appears
    • when the symptoms first began
    • whether it comes and goes over time
    • whether there’s a history of atopic eczema in your family
    • whether you have any other conditions, such as allergies or asthma
    • whether something in your diet or lifestyle may be contributing to your symptoms

    Typically, to be diagnosed with atopic eczema you should have had an itchy skin condition in the last 12 months and 3 or more of the following:

    • visibly irritated red skin in the creases of your skin such as the insides of your elbows or behind your knees at the time of examination by a health professional
    • a history of skin irritation occurring in the same areas mentioned above
    • generally dry skin in the last 12 months
    • a history of asthma or hay fever children under 4 must have an immediate relative, such as a parent, brother or sister, who has 1 of these conditions
    • the condition started before the age of 2

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