Eczema In Children

Eczema In Children

Eczema is a dry skin condition. You can easily manage most eczema at home but it needs care every day. There is no cure for eczema - just good management.


What is eczema?

Eczema is a dry skin condition that causes the skin to become red (inflamed) and itchy. On darker skin, eczema may not look red - it may look darker or lighter, and feel rough. 

You can usually control your child's eczema by avoiding triggers, bathing once a day, using lots of moisturiser and using steroids on the skin (topical steroids) when your child's skin has active eczema.

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.

Avoiding triggers

Stay cool
Getting too hot from clothing or heating can make eczema worse. 

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.


Bathing can be really helpful for children with eczema. Bathing once a day helps to clean the skin and prepares the skin for creams after the bath. 

When bathing: 

  • use a moisturising wash or soap substitute
  • don't use soap or bubble bath
  • pat the skin dry
  • apply eczema creams immediately after the bath 

Antiseptic baths 2 times a week can help prevent infection and improve eczema.

Find out how to use bleach baths


Using lots of moisturiser many times a day is really important for children with eczema. 

  • use it at least twice a day - more if possible
  • use it all over the body, including the face
  • put it on using a downward motion (in the same direction as the hairs grow)
  • use a spoon to scoop out creams that come in a tub, rather than your fingers
  • aim to finish at least one 500g tub every 2 to 3 weeks


Topical steroids are steroids you put on the skin. They help to soothe inflamed eczema and allow the skin to heal and become comfortable.

  • topical steroids are safe and essential for eczema care
  • use topical steroids on any skin with red, itchy, active eczema - on darker skin, eczema may not look red - it may look lighter or darker, and feel rough
  • put enough topical steroid on the skin that you can see a good shiny layer
  • stop topical steroids when eczema has gone and start if eczema returns, but keep using moisturiser every day

When should I seek help? 

Please contact your GP or nurse if:

  • your child's eczema is not showing signs of improvement after 5 days, or
  • if your child has signs of a skin infection

Signs of a skin infection include:

  • crusting
  • weeping
  • pustules (yellow or white pimples)
  • blisters
  • fever
  • pain

Watch a KidsHealth video - 3 easy steps when caring for your child with eczema

Can't see this video on YouTube? Try viewing it on Vimeo

Video transcript

See more KidsHealth content on eczema

Check out KidsHealth's section on eczema

Screenshot of KidsHealth website eczema section


This content has been developed and approved by the Clinical Reference Group for the Paediatric Society NZ's Eczema Clinical Network, Te Rōpū Kiripai Hapori.

This page last reviewed 23 June 2023.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it