Pediatric Eczema

What is Pediatric Eczema?

Pediatric eczema usually refers to atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that leads to dry, scaly patches of skin that are often red, inflamed and very itchy. The first lesions may appear before an infant is 6 months old, but it most commonly occurs before a child turns 5.

Children come in from the cold with frozen toes and those adorable rosy cheeks that can be cured with a warm hug and cup of hot chocolate. But the redness that results from a skin condition called eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, comes and goes, along with dry, itchy skin that can leave a child miserable and parents frustrated. Children have almost no choice but to scratch.

Pediatric Eczema Causes

Doctors aren’t sure what causes eczema in children but it tends to be more common in families that have a history of hay fever or asthma. Children with eczema also seem to have a form of sensitive skin that is more easily irritated by sweating, heat, rough fabrics and some detergents, soaps and cleansers.

Eczema can appear over and over in children, on different parts of the body at different ages.

  • Newborns, for example, usually develop eczema on their cheeks, forehead and scalp.
  • At 6 to 12 months, the rash is often worst on elbows and knees, because of crawling.
  • At two years, eczema tends to center in the creases of the elbows, knees, wrists, ankles and hands.
  • On older children and teenagers, the rash is usually limited to hands.

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Child Eczema Treatment

Much of the damage associated with eczema comes from scratching and rubbing that the child cannot control.

Our pediatricians and pediatric care specialists at Mercy work closely with every child to determine exactly what’s causing the rash and to provide immediate relief. Since eczema can re-occur, we provide ongoing care to keep your child comfortable in his or her own skin.

Children with eczema (atopic dermatitis) tend to get patches of dry, itchy skin. The itch can be so uncomfortable it interferes with sleep, making your child feel miserable. Plus, scratching can cause the rashes to get infected.

While there is no known cure for eczema, the condition can be treated so your child feels better. There are also ways to help your child avoid eczema flare-ups.

Eczema treatments usually target four common problems: dryness, itching, irritated skin (inflammation), and infection.

  • Give your child a bath (or shower) every day or every other day for 5-10 minutes in lukewarm water. No soap is needed, but a gentle non-soap cleanser can be used on the sweaty areas (armpits, neck, groin) and on the hands and feet. Use only fragrance-free, hypoallergenic cleansers. Avoid scrubbing your child’s skin with anything rough. Don’t use bubble bath in the bath water.

  • Pat your child’s skin dry after the bath or shower. If your doctor has prescribed any topical medicines, apply these to the areas of rash (BEFORE applying any moisturizers).

  • Apply a moisturizer to the whole body immediately after bathing (while the skin is still damp) everyday. This helps “lock in” the moisture of the water. The creamier the moisturizer, the better it will work. Ointments such as petroleum jelly or fragrance-free moisturizing CREAMS are good choices (lotions are thinner and less effective). Most importantly, find a moisturizer that your child likes to use. Moisturizers should be applied once or twice every day, even when the rash is gone.

  • Dress your child in soft fabrics like 100% cotton. Use mild, fragrance-free laundry detergents. Don’t use fabric softeners or fabric sheets in the dryer. Minimize your child’s exposure to things that are known to commonly be irritating to sensitive skin. This includes fragrance in products and in the air, for example, as well as smoke, dust, wool, and animal dander.

  • Prevent scratching. Try to stop your child from scratching as much as possible since scratching can make the skin feel even more itchy. Scratching can also lead to open sores which can lead to skin infections. Keep your child’s nails cut short. Wearing cotton gloves at night can also help.

  • Wet wrap treatments. Apply wet wraps AFTER bathing and applying topical medicines and moisturizers. Here’s how:

  • Apply prescribed medicine to areas of rash and apply moisturizer to surrounding skin.

  • Soak a pair of pajamas or onesies in warm water.

  • Wring out the pajamas until they are damp and not dripping.

  • Put the damp pajamas on your child, with dry pajamas on top.

  • Make sure the room is warm or provide a warm blanket, so your child doesn’t feel cold.

  • Keep the wet wraps on for at least a half an hour, or leave them on overnight.

  • After removing the wet wraps, reapply moisturizer.

Adults Eczema Treatment

What is adult eczema? Adults can develop any type of eczema. Within this section, you’ll find information about adult atopic dermatitis (AD).

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