Eczema In Children
Eczema In Children
Eczema is a dry skin condition. You can usually control your child's eczema by using lots of moisturiser, a bath once a day and using steroids when your child's skin has active eczema.
Key points to remember about eczema in children
- eczema is a dry, itchy skin condition
- you can usually control your child's eczema by using lots of moisturiser, a bath once a day and using steroids when your child's skin has active eczema
- avoid things which irritate your child's skin, especially soap
- go to your family doctor as soon as possible if your child's eczema doesn't improve after treatment or becomes infected
What is eczema?
- eczema is a dry skin condition that causes the skin to become red (inflamed) and itchy
- it usually begins early in childhood
What causes eczema?
The skin of people with eczema has cracks in the barrier so is more sensitive to irritants (such as soap) and more at risk of infection.
A child is more likely to develop eczema if there is a family history of eczema, asthma or hayfever.
Food allergies do not cause eczema although children with eczema have a higher risk of developing food allergy.
How long can eczema last?
You can control eczema with treatment and by avoiding 'triggers'.
You can control eczema with treatment and by avoiding things which can trigger your child's eczema.
There is a good chance that your child's eczema will improve or disappear as they get older.
What puts my child at risk of getting eczema?
- eczema occurs in about 15 to 20 in 100 children
- children with eczema are more likely to develop allergies
- eczema runs in families and often goes hand in hand with asthma and hayfever
What are the signs and symptoms of eczema?
- if your child has eczema, their skin feels dry and rough to touch, and it is itchy
- their skin can become inflamed (looks red or darker in kids with dark skin), and may even get infected (pustules, yellow crusts), particularly with scratching
- in babies, the rash often involves their face
- in older children, the skin in the creases of their knees and elbows, around their neck and on their hands is often affected
- in some children, the skin over their entire body is affected
- at times your child's skin will look good and at other times it gets worse - this is part of eczema and not necessarily caused by bad care
How can I manage my child's eczema?
You can easily manage most eczema at home but it needs care every day. There is no cure for eczema - just good management.
See the eczema care videos
Print out an eczema action plan
You can print out this Eczema care plan (PDF, 254 KB) and take it with you when you see your child's doctor. Ask the doctor to mark on the diagram where you should put moisturiser and topical steroids on your child's skin.
Use bleach baths to help prevent infection
Antiseptic baths 2 times a week can help prevent infection and improve eczema. Find out how to use bleach baths.
Avoid triggers and treat infection
Getting too hot from clothing or heating can make eczema worse - stay cool.
Avoid soap and fragrances
Soap and fragrances are the most common triggers of eczema. Only use skin care products designed for eczema. Many are available on prescription from your doctor or nurse prescriber.
Prevent skin infections
Eczema is made worse by infection such as from:
- school sores (impetigo)
- the cold sore virus which can cause severe painful infection of eczema
Avoid contact with cold sores. See your family doctor urgently if your child gets an infection from cold sores.
Removing foods from your child's diet does not usually help eczema
Removing foods from your child's diet does not usually help eczema and can be dangerous, leading to anaphylaxis.Please talk with your doctor about this.
Are there likely to be any complications of eczema?
It's important to control your child's eczema - uncontrolled eczema can lead to poor sleep which can have long-term effects on learning and behaviour.
Children with eczema are more likely to get skin infections.
Eczema makes the skin dry and cracked and increases the chance of infection by bacteria and viruses (especially the cold sore virus). Infected eczema may be wet, crusted or painful. See your doctor for treatment.
If your child's eczema gets worse or becomes infected, you will need to take them to your doctor. Sometimes, a hospital stay may be necessary.
It's important to control your child's eczema. Uncontrolled eczema can lead to poor sleep which can have long-term effects on learning and behaviour.
Signs of infected eczema
- weeping crusted areas
- lots of pustules (yellow or white pimples)
- sudden flaring of eczema all over the body
- shivering, painful skin
- painful chicken pox-like blisters and sores - this can be the cold sore virus - see your doctor urgently
Live chat with a children's skin doctor
Watch a video of a live chat - answers to some common eczema and skin care questions from parents.
KidsHealth eczema section
This page last reviewed 17 November 2022.
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