Eczema is a particular type of Atopic dermatitis that has a common occurrence in children under the age of 5. It is characterized by appearance of red patches, itchiness and skin rash. During the onset of eczema, it shows up in the child’s scalp cheeks and scalp but after first year it can spread to arms, inside of the elbows, behind the knees and buttocks. While your toddler can develop different types of Eczema, the most common among them is the Atopic dermatitis or AD that first affects the infant’s immune system.
It is thus very crucial for parents to identify what kind of Eczema their child has as the disease can manifest itself in older children and teenagers if left untreated at an earlier stage.
Eczema is a skin condition that affects 10% to 20 % of the children around the world which means every one out of five children may show symptoms of this disease. Though there is no cure for Eczema, toddlers usually grow out of this skin condition and they become teenagers with the right control and treatment measures. 90% of children develop Eczema before their 5th birthday and rarely starts in an adult.
Eczema is also known as atopic eczema as it is inherited by children from their parents. Eczema causes the skin to become dry and thus makes it an easy target for different infections and allergenic substances. This worsens the skin and gives rise to various rashes, allergies and skin bleeding.
Causes of Eczema
- The exact cause of Eczema still remains a speculation among doctors. However, it has been established that this condition is passed down generations from parents to their children. If you or any of your close family members had Eczema, asthma or allergies before, then your child is most likely to inherit this skin condition.
- Your child can also develop Eczema if they come in contact with allergens or irritants present in the environment. Although in rare cases, but Eczema can also be triggered by allergens present in the food you give to your child or in your diet if you are breastfeeding.
- Atopic Dermatitis can also be caused by problems in the skin causing germs and infectious particles to enter through. A dried skin is more susceptible to allergens and infections rather than a well moisture skin.
- Eczema affects the skin in situations known as flare-ups. An infant has skin irritation and dry patches most of the time but during the flare-ups, the damaged area worsens and requires immediate attention and treatment. Flare-ups are caused by the overreaction of immune system to certain allergens.
- Some fare-ups can also be caused by irritations in skin that are triggered by chemicals in detergents, bath soaps and shampoos.
Each and every baby has a different skin, but there are certain triggers that worsen Eczema, they include:
- Dry skin is a well known cause for irritation and often occurs due to winters due to low skin moisture.
- Irritants such as woolen clothes, perfumes, soaps, detergents, and polyester material can trigger Eczema symptoms.
- Children with Eczema may react to stress and start flushing which in turn can cause more skin irritation and actually worsen the condition.
- Heat and sweat plays as a major factor in worsening skin irritation.
Also the following conditions increase the risk of infants contracting Eczema:
- Family members with Atopic Dermatitis, Asthma or Hay fever remain the strongest risk factor in developing Eczema. If any one of the parents has atopic dermatitis or any allergic condition, the child is likely to have Eczema. Some children may get all of the three diseases.
- Eczema is also related to the living conditions of the infant. If you are living in a developed country which has higher levels of pollution’s, the risks of contracting Eczema become higher.
- It is noted that females have a slightly higher chances of developing Atopic Dermatitis than males.
- If a mother gives birth to a child in much later in her childbearing years, the baby is likely to develop Eczema.
Symptoms associated with Eczema
Atopic Dermatitis of Eczema as it is commonly called shows different visible symptoms in both infants and children.
Newborn babies who are just 2 or 3 months old can develop Eczema. When Atopic Dermatitis begins the following symptoms occur:
- Sudden appearance of skin rash that makes the skin extremely dry and itchy. Scaly lesions might also form on the affected skin.
- These skin rashes form on the scalp and areas of the face, especially on the cheeks.
- Frequent re occurrence of itching that may come and go.
- The affected skin can bubble up and can weep and ooze fluid.
- During the occurrence of Eczema, infants can begin rubbing against the bed or other things to scratch the itch. This can be a signal for parents to get your baby checked by a doctor.
- Infants have trouble sleeping.
- Skin infections become common due to the increased skin irritation caused by continues rubbing and scratching.
Eczema also occurs in children above the age of 2 and the symptoms include:
- Rash that first appears on the area inside of elbows and knees. The rash can also appear at other common places such as neck, ankles, wrists and buttocks.
- Rough scaly patches appear at the sites of rash followed by extreme irritation.
- The skin appears to be bumpy in children with Atopic Dermatitis.
- The area affected by Eczema may become light or dark in color.
- The skin can become thick and leathery due to constant scratching.
- Formation of knots on the thickened skin and constant itching are also related with Eczema.
Treatment procedures for Eczema
Any disease requires the careful supervision of doctors and is no different for Eczema. If you see any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, then it is crucial that you take your child to a nearby dermatologist as quickly as possible. Dermatologists would perform patch tests which are used to identify allergies.
However, there is no cure for Eczema and the treatments used can only keep the skin condition under control. The treatment for Eczema is important because:
- It prevents Atopic Dermatitis from getting worse
- It relieves the scratch and itch by calming the skin
- Reduces stress and lets your child sleep peacefully
- Prevent any further infections to the skin
- Preventing the skin from thickening any further which is the cause of most of the itch and rash.
Besides medical treatment, there are certain home remedies that you can perform to keep Eczema under control.
- Moisturizers: using a good moisturizer regularly and especially after bath can keep your baby’s skin retain moisture and prevent drying of skin.
- Lukewarm bath: bathing your baby in lukewarm water relaxes the skin and also reduces itching to certain extent. Do make sure that the water is not too hot and the bath time should not extend to more than 10 minutes.
- Use mild soaps that are not harsh on your baby’s skin. Avoid using perfumed deodorant as it can affect the sensitive skin.
- Avoid clothes that are too tight on the skin to avoid rubbing and itching. Loose cotton clothes are an ideal option for your child to wear. Also remember to wash new clothes with a mild detergent before making your baby wear it. Don’t overdress your baby, as heat and sweat can trigger Eczema flare-ups.
- To stop your child from itching and scratching and make the condition worse, always cut his/her nails, also you can put on gloves or mittens to stop them from itching.
Tips for managing Eczema
1. Bathing tips
- Bathe your child in lukewarm and not hot water.
- Bathing time should be limited to 5 or 10 minutes.
- Use mild cleansers and pat dry your child after bathing them.
- Always apply moisturizer after bathing.
2. Tips for choosing a good moisturizer
- While selecting moisturizer, go for ointments and thick creams.
- You can also use fragrance free petroleum jellies.
- Select the best moisturizer for your child by trial and error.
3. Easing discomfort levels
- Apply moisturizer to the baby’s skin at least twice a day to prevent skin dryness.
- If your child is frequently itching and scratching than ask your dermatologist to do a wet wrap treatment.
- Keep the nails on finder short so that they don’t further irritate the skin.
- Keep the temperature and humidity around your baby ideal. Do not expose him/her to extreme weather conditions.
4. Tips for washing clothes
- Use detergents that are specially made for sensitive skins.
- Wash your child’s new clothes before making them wear it.
- Use only recommended and limited amount of detergents and use adequate water to properly rinse it.
Most of the dermatologist recommends bleach baths to heal the skin faster. In that case follow these directions carefully:
- Never use concentrated bleach. Use 6 percent bleach solution for the baths.
- Measure the exact amount of bleach that the doctor prescribed and then pour it into the bath. Using too much or too little bleach won’t do any good.
- Never apply the bleach directly on the affected skin. Pour the bleach in water and wait for it to dissolve.
- Talk with the dermatologist to know the bath timing. Most doctors prescribe 10 minutes of bleach bath.
- Pat the skin dry after bath and apply the medications provided. Skin should be moisturized afterwards by using a moisturizer.
- Use half cup bleach in a full bathtub, for half-filled tub use a quarter cup bleach and for bathing your toddler use one teaspoon bleach per gallon of water.