Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, affects about 10 percent of all young children. About 60 percent of those with eczema first developed it before the age of one year old, and another 30 percent will experience symptoms before the age of 5 years old.
It is an inflammatory skin condition, characterized by redness, scaly rashes and itchiness. It usually first appears on the face, arms, legs and hands. It is considered to be genetic, and children who develop eczema often have family relatives with a history of the condition or who have allergies or asthma.
Treating eczema medicallyhere are a number of different treatments available for eczema. Your pediatrician will recommend a treatment based on your child’s age and the severity of symptoms. Some of the medical treatments include:* _ Corticosteroid creams - These might also be called cortisone or steroid creams. They are topical medications that are applied directly to the affected areas of the skin.* Antihistamines - These are medications that can help relieve itchiness.
- Ultraviolet light therapy - This is usually used on older children and administered by a dermatologist. It can help clear up flares of eczema and reduce itchiness and discomfort.
In addition to medical treatment, your doctor might suggest testing for food allergies. Almost 40 percent of children with eczema also have food allergies. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests that children under 5 years old who have eczema be tested for milk, egg, peanut, wheat and soy allergies.
_At-home treatmentsesides medical treatments, there are a number of things parents can do to help prevent flares of eczema, as well as reduce the discomfort of symptoms. _ Use warm water for baths._ Hot water tends to dry out the skin, which can trigger eczema. Make sure bath water is warm and that your child pats dry after the bath rather than rubbing with a towel.
Use mild cleansers. Look for cleansers that do not have added fragrances. Soaps can dry out the skin; use body and facial cleansers instead.
Moisturize. Make sure to keep your child’s skin moisturized. Put on moisturizer when your child’s skin is still damp after a bath. Apply moisturizers several times throughout the day as well. Look for moisturizers and lotions that do not contain alcohol. Creams and ointments work best.
Make sure your child drinks plenty of water. Skin hydrates from the inside, and drinking water will help the skin stay moist.
Apply cool compresses. This can help to relieve discomfort and itching. Apply a cool compress directly to affected areas.
Dress your child in soft fabrics, such as cotton. Harsh fabrics, such as wool, can irritate the skin and trigger eczema. Look for a non-soap, fragrance-free laundry detergent.
Pay attention to known allergens. Although eczema is not an allergy, it is associated with allergies, and exposure to allergens can cause a flare up.
Use cotton gloves and cut fingernails short. If itching is a problem, soft, cotton gloves can reduce irritation from scratching. Gloves can be worn overnight.
Pay attention to stress. This is a common trigger for eczema. Teach your child some stress-relieving techniques, such as deep breathing, taking a break or talking through problems.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.