Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) is a prevalent, rash-like, itchy skin condition that children often develop by the age of five. Simply put, eczema is a condition that causes a person's skin to become red and itchy. It may start as a simple rash, but the skin becomes inflamed and even redder when scratched. Eczema can show symptoms anywhere on the body. Although there is no known cure for eczema, early diagnosis, lifestyle changes and treatment can significantly reduce symptoms. Read on for more information about causes, symptoms and treatment of eczema in children.
WHAT CAUSES ECZEMA?
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests eczema may result from the "leakiness" of the skin barrier, leading to the skin drying out, making it more prone to irritation and inflammation. Factors that can contribute to the development of eczema in children include:
- The immune system - A child may experience an eczema flare-up when their immune system overreacts and causes an exaggerated response to an outside trigger.
- The environment - Things or potential triggers an individual is exposed to like pollutants, like tobacco smoke, climate factors (such as temperature) and social factors (such as stress).
- Genetics - Children with a family history of eczema, allergies or asthma are more susceptible to developing eczema.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ECZEMA FOUND IN CHILDREN?
Yes, there are different types of eczema found in children. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types below:
- Atopic dermatitis, also called eczema, dermatitis, atopic eczema and atopic dermatitis occurs in children and babies but can last into adulthood. Usually, it shows up as highly itchy, scaly patches on the insides of the elbows, behind the knees and on the face, but it can also appear anywhere on the body.
- Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic form of eczema and usually affects areas with large numbers of oil glands. In infants, it often appears on the scalp as cradle cap. The affected areas often have a whitish and flaky appearance. A yeast may cause seborrhea. People with this type of eczema seem unable to process the yeast properly, and irritation occurs.
- Nummular Eczema, also referred to as discoid or nummular eczema, appears in coin-sized projections that are bumpy. These patches usually appear on the lower legs, torso or forearms.
- Neurodermatitis/Lichen Simplex Chronicus is similar in appearance to atopic dermatitis and is exacerbated by scratching or rubbing. In addition, it may result from insect bites, stress or nervous habits and can cause the area of skin to thicken and discolor.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ECZEMA?
The symptoms in a child vary by age. In infants younger than one year old, the eczema rash usually appears on their cheeks, forehead or scalp. It also can sometimes spread to the knees, elbows and trunk. Older children and teens typically experience the rash in the bends of the elbows and knees, on the neck or the wrists and ankles. Older children's skin is scalier and drier than an infant's, making the rash thicker, darker or scarred from possible scratching.
- Dry, itchy skin
- Redness, scales and bumps that can leak fluid and then crust over
- Comes and goes
- May be more noticeable at night
IS THERE TREATMENT FOR ECZEMA?
Although there is no cure for eczema, there are ways to help prevent it. Some of the prevention tactics for children include:
- Avoid long hot showers or baths for children. Hot water strips moisture from the skin faster than warm or cool water. Keep showers or baths short, 10 minutes or less and use warm water instead of hot.
- Apply cream or lotion to your child's skin while it is damp. Bathing allows water to enter the skin; moisturizing after the shower while the skin is damp seals in moisture.
- Be mindful of clothing/materials that can irritate the skin. Dress your children in soft, breathable clothing and avoid itchy fabrics like wool that can further irritate eczema. Also, use a clean and fragrance-free laundry detergent and avoid other scented products such as cleansers, soap, etc.
- Keep your child's nails cut short. Eczema can become itchy and increasingly get worse the more it is scratched. By keeping your child's fingernails short, there is less chance of irritation.
Your child can also benefit from treatment and medications, such as:
- Corticosteroid creams & ointments - prescribed by your dermatologist
- Antibiotic creams/oral antibiotics - prescribed if the skin is cracked or has open sores
- Oral corticosteroids - prescribed if the infection is severe enough; cannot be prescribed for an extended time because of possible side effects.
- Non-steroidal creams - prescribed by your dermatologist
CHILD ECZEMA | DERMATOLOGY CENTER FOR SKIN HEALTH, PLLC
Eczema can be a frustrating condition to live with. As a parent, you want the best for your child, so it may be difficult to watch them experience this discomfort.
The Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC, wants to do everything possible to help you understand what is causing your eczema and provide the best possible treatment. Please schedule an appointment to develop a treatment plan for your child's eczema by calling us at 304-598-3888.