Eczema is a chronic skin disorder with red, itchy patches of skin. It is very common, affecting 1 in every 10 children. It is often seen in children who have allergies. The skin is usually dry and may also become thickened with time. In babies it often begins on the cheeks and forehead and then spreads to the body, arms, and legs. In older children, the rash commonly occurs in the elbow creases and behind the knees, wrists, and ankles.

The cause of eczema is unknown, but it often runs in families. When it is severe, there may be an allergy that is making it worse. Foods such as eggs and peanuts, pollens, and house dust mites are all common allergic triggers for eczema. Very hot/humid or very cold/dry weather can worsen eczema, as can wool clothing. Scratching of the itchy skin will aggravate eczema as well.

What You Can Do At Home

There is no cure for eczema, meaning no treatment that will make it go away and never come back. Fortunately, most children see their eczema improve or go away entirely as they get older. There are many treatments that can manage eczema very effectively. Most important is good skin care. Bathe your child daily but keep baths short (5-10 minutes) in warm water, not hot or cold. Use moisturizers twice a day. (Eucerin and Aquaphor are popular choices.) The best time to moisturize is after bathing with a moisturizing soap such as Dove. Apply the moisturizer all over within 3 minutes of drying your child off with a towel to trap moisture in the skin. Avoid skin products and detergents with dyes or scents.

Keep your child’s fingernails short to reduce the impact of scratching. Topical steroid ointments can be used on active areas of eczema. Oral antihistamines can help eczema by relieving itching, especially at night.

Call Your Pediatrician If You Suspect Your Child Has Eczema

Since these medications can have side effects if not used properly, we will evaluate your child in the office and select the right treatment for his/her eczema. We will also make any necessary referrals to allergists or dermatologists in the case of severe eczema.

Call our office for an appointment if you think your child has eczema or another rash. Eczema is not an emergency and can be managed during regular office hours. Eczema can become infected, so call our office right away if there is redness, oozing, crusting, or fever.

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