Eczema is a medical skin condition that causes the skin to become scaly, dry, itchy, and irritated. Eczema usually appears on the face and scalp in babies, but it also appears on the backs of knees, elbow creases, neck, and face in adults and older children.
It comes in a variety of forms. However, the most frequent conditions that afflict children include atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic Eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis, popularly known as “cradle cap” in babies. Eczema, particularly atopic dermatitis, commonly occurs in children between six months and five years.
What causes Eczema?
Eczema is caused by a breakdown in the skin’s barrier. Many kids with Eczema have insufficient amounts of a protein called “filaggrin” in their skin’s outer layer. Filaggrin aids in the formation of a robust barrier between the body and the environment through the skin. Skin that lacks this protein has a harder difficulty retaining water and keeping bacteria and other irritants out.
Eczema is caused by both a person’s genes and surroundings. It usually runs in families and is linked to other allergic disorders, including asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever and seasonal allergies). Food allergies are common in children with Eczema; however, food allergies do not cause Eczema.
Eczema affects children and causes itchy, scaly, bumpy, inflammatory patches of skin. The inflammatory spots may appear red on children with lighter skin. Patches on darker-skinned children may seem brown, purple, or grey.
If little eczema spots aren’t treated promptly and effectively, the remainder of the skin will become inflamed, and the patches will spread.
Eczema patches can also leak, crack, and bleed, mainly if your youngster scratches frequently. Through these cracks, bacteria and viruses can enter the skin, causing illnesses: light-brown or yellow crusts, blisters, or soreness result from this. If the disease is severe, your kid may experience fever, headaches, and exhaustion.
The skin may appear thickened and dry if Eczema is not treated appropriately. However, when Eczema is treated effectively, the skin returns to normal, with no scarring.
Eczema symptoms can vary depending on age.
- Eczema can affect vast regions of a baby’s body, particularly their cheeks, heads, and bodies. They could also have scratches from scratching their irritation with their fingernails. Eczema in the nappy area may be present in babies with nappy rash.
- Patchy Eczema on the wrists, elbows, ankles, and knees is common among toddlers and preschoolers.
- Patches of thick, inflammatory, bumpy Eczema can appear everywhere on a teenager’s body, including the wrinkles of their elbows, behind their knees, and around the necks, eyes, ears, and palms.
Is Eczema Contagious?
No. Eczema makes children more sensitive to skin infections, but it is not contagious. Infections in children with Eczema are frequently caused by microorganisms that dwell harmlessly on everyone’s skin. Children with Eczema have a more challenging time keeping germs out since their skin doesn’t always have a strong barrier to keep them out.
Does Baby Eczema Go Away by Itself?
It often does. The majority of children outgrow it before starting school.
Although it is uncommon, some children will get Eczema as adults. They may go months or even years without experiencing any symptoms. However, they may still have dry skin. Find out more about children, allergies, and Eczema.
How can parents help their babies with Eczema?
Dryness: repairing the skin barrier
The skin barrier in children with Eczema does not hold water well. As a result, the skin becomes dry and cracked, making infection more likely. Itchy skin is another symptom of dry skin. The importance of everyday gentle skincare in improving the skin barrier cannot be overstated. As part of this:
- Give your child a 5- to 10-minute bath (or shower) every day or every other day in lukewarm water. Although no soap is required, a gentle non-soap cleanser can be used on sweaty regions such as the armpits, neck, and groin, as well as the hands and feet. Only use hypoallergenic, fragrance-free cleansers. Scrubbing your child’s skin with anything harsh is not a good idea. In the bath, don’t use a bubble bath.
- After a bath or shower, pat your child’s skin dry. Apply any topical medications your doctor has given to the rash’s affected regions (BEFORE applying any moisturizers).
- Every day, apply a moisturizer to the entire body after showering (when the skin is still damp)—this aids in the “locking in” of the water’s moisture. The better the moisturizer, the creamier it is. Petroleum jelly or fragrance-free moisturizing CREAMS are both beautiful options (lotions are thinner and less effective). Above all, pick a moisturizer that your child enjoys using. Even if the rash is gone, moisturizers should be applied once or twice a day.
- Use soft textiles, such as 100 percent cotton, to dress your child. Use detergents that are fragrance-free and gentle. In the dryer, avoid using fabric softeners or fabric sheets. Reduce your child’s exposure to items that are generally recognized to irritate delicate skin. For example, fragrance in items and the air and smoke, dust, wool, and animal dander are all examples.
Reducing the itch
The first step in making the skin feel less irritating is to use gentle skin care, as indicated above.
Other ways to help reduce the itch:
- Avoid scratching. Scratching can make the skin feel even more irritating, so try to keep your child from scratching as much as possible. Scratching can also result in open sores, which can become infected. Your child’s nails should be kept short. Cotton gloves might also be helpful at night.
- Treatments with wet wraps. After showering and applying topical medicines and moisturizers, apply wet wraps. Here’s how to do it:
- Apply the prescribed medication to areas of rash and apply moisturizer to surrounding skin.
- Soak a pair of pajamas or onesies in warm water for a couple of hours.
- Wring the pajamas out until they’re damp but not soaking wet.
- Put the damp pajamas on your child, with dry pajamas on top.
- Please make sure the room is warm or give your child a warm blanket to keep them comfortable.
- Leave the wet wraps on for at least half an hour, if not overnight.
- Reapply moisturizer after removing the wet wraps.
- Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine and hydroxyzine may make your child drowsy, allowing them to fall asleep more quickly rather than scratching their skin. Antihistamines, on the other hand, rarely relieve the itching. Always follow the guidelines for your child’s age and weight, and if you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Healing irritated skin
- To treat inflamed eczema rashes, topical steroid medications (“steroids” or “cortisones”) are administered to the skin (inflammation). When the rash flares up, these prescription drugs are typically taken twice a day. Topical steroids are available in various strengths and formulations (such as lotions, ointments, creams, gels, and oils). Your doctor can assist you in determining the best mixture for your child’s skin. Topical steroids are very safe and effective when administered correctly.
- Non-steroid eczema medications (tacrolimus ointment, pimecrolimus cream, crisaborole ointment) use different active components than steroids to help heal sensitive eczema rashes. They can help with mild Eczema and sensitive skin areas like the eyelids, armpits, and groin.
Managing & preventing skin infections
Bacteria and viruses can worsen eczema rashes, so keep an eye out for indications of illness.
Look for leaking, crusting, pus bumps, blisters, or a rash that isn’t improving despite your usual treatment. If you suspect your child’s skin is infected, consult your doctor. Infections may necessitate the use of antibiotics or antiviral medications.
Diluted bleach baths
Infections can be prevented by soaking in a tub with a tiny amount of bleach added to the water 2-3 times per week. Bleach baths are simple to make at home and are similar to swimming in a chlorinated pool:
- To dilute the bleach, add 1/2 cup ordinary household bleach (sodium hypochlorite) OR 1/3 cup concentrated household bleach to a whole tub of lukewarm bathwater and mix. Make sure you’re using plain bleach; splash-free or scented bleach won’t work and could irritate your skin even more.
- Add 2 tablespoons of bleach to a whole tub of water if using an infant tub.
- Soak your child for 10-15 minutes in the bath. Make an effort to soak your entire body. It is okay to get your child’s face and scalp wet in the bath because it is similar to a swimming pool. To prevent drowning in babies and small children, practice physical supervision like you would during regular bath time.
- At the end of the bath, rinse off the dilute bleach water. After patting the skin dry, apply eczema medicine to rash regions and a moisturizer to the entire body.
New treatments for Eczema
Biologic therapies (also known as “biologic s”) target the component of the immune system responsible for inflamed skin rash. Dupilumab is the first biologic therapy to receive FDA approval in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved this medication for the treatment of Eczema in children aged 6 and up. This medication can help those with moderate to severe Eczema who aren’t getting enough relief from topical drugs and careful skincare. To learn more about this therapy option, speak with your doctor.
When can I stop treatment for an eczema rash?
You can start using the medicines less frequently after your child’s skin is no longer irritated and the rash spots are smooth and soft. The skin may appear darkened after the rash flare cures, but the color will return to normal with time. However, because Eczema is a chronic skin condition, it’s critical to maintain a daily practice of gentle skincare and moisturizer application to avoid recurrent flare-ups and infections.
How can I prevent future eczema flares?
- One of the most important things you can do to prevent future eczema flares is to practice gentle daily skin care, as outlined above. Consult your doctor about the ideal daily schedule for your child.
- Avoiding triggers is also vital to avoid eczema flare-ups in the future. Various children have different eczema triggers. Some parents and clinicians may use allergy testing to uncover additional triggers that may be avoided. The following are some examples of triggers:
- Dust mites
- Fragrances (including perfumes, colognes, air fresheners, candles, incense)
- Heat and sweat
- Insect bites and stings
- Pet dander
- Tobacco smoke
- Wool and synthetic fabrics
Certain foods can aggravate an eczema outbreak in rare situations. If you suspect this is the case, see your doctor before implementing any dietary restrictions.
Eczema can be stressful for both children and their parents, especially when it makes sleeping difficult. With a solid treatment plan and a healthy skincare routine, your pediatrician and pediatric dermatologist can help you control your child’s eczema symptoms.