Eczema In Children

Doctor Rogers Skincare Blog: Eczema in Children (hands with Eczema displayed)

Eczema is a common skin condition characterized by red, itchy, and inflamed skin. It affects people of all ages, but is particularly prevalent in children. Eczema can have a significant impact on a child's quality of life, causing discomfort, sleep disturbances, and emotional distress. Managing eczema in children is crucial to alleviate symptoms, prevent flare-ups, and improve their overall well-being.

Prevalence in Children

Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions in children, affecting around 10-20% of infants and young children globally. Eczema may go away for a few children, but for others, it may persist into adulthood. There is an increasingly growing number of children being affected by this skin condition.  

Importance of Managing Eczema in Children

It is imperative to effectively deal with eczema to help relieve the discomfort and minimize itching and redness. Untreated eczema can lead to complications such as skin infections, scarring, and psychological distress. By effectively managing eczema through proper skin care, avoiding triggers, and seeking medical treatment when necessary, parents can help their children lead healthier and more comfortable lives.

Understanding Eczema in Children

Eczema can manifest in various forms, and is very common in children. There are five main types of eczema seen in children. 

-Atopic Dermatitis: It is the most common type of eczema.  Skin is distinguished by scaly, prickly, dry, and itchy skin. Oftentimes there is a family history of eczema as well.  

-Contact Dermatitis: It occurs when the skin is triggered by allergens, irritants, and certain substances leading to inflammation of the skin.

-Seborrheic Dermatitis: This type of eczema occurs on areas of skin with a higher proportion of oil glands, especially the scalp, but it targets other areas of the skin too.

-Nummular Eczema: Distinguished by the circular shaped patches of the affected skin leading to a burning sensation, inflammation, and itchiness.

-Dyshidrotic Eczema: Characterized by a cluster of small itchy blisters formed on the affected skin, primarily the feet, palms, and toes.                                                                                                   

Causes and Triggers

The exact cause of eczema is not fully understood, but is thought to involve a combination of genetic predisposition, immune system dysfunction, and environmental factors. Some of the most prevalent triggers that can make the symptoms worse in children may include:

-Allergens: Dust mites, pollen, mold, pet dander, and certain foods.

-Irritants: Shampoo, synthetic fabrics, washing-up liquid, soaps, perfume, and other chemicals.

-Climate: Changes in temperature or humidity can exacerbate eczema symptoms.

-Stress: Emotional distress or anxiety can also exacerbate symptoms.

-Skin Irritants: Rubbing or scratching can cause the affected skin to break out, and bleed, resulting in sores.

By identifying and avoiding these triggers, parents can help manage their child's eczema more effectively and reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups.

Diagnosing Eczema in Children

If you suspect your child has eczema, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment. The healthcare professional, whether a pediatrician, allergist, or dermatologist will be able to diagnose eczema, and provide treatment options tailored to your child’s unique needs. After diagnosis, the healthcare professional will work out the most suited treatment plans for the child depending on the severity of the condition.

Managing Eczema in Children

It is essential to maintain an everyday proper skincare routine to better manage symptoms of eczema in children. Consistent skin care can help minimize discomfort, prevent exacerbation, and stimulate healthy skin growth. Some of the major features of a skincare routine are as follows:

At Home Treatments:

-Moisturizers: Moisturizing skin daily with an unscented, suited-for-sensitive skin moisturizer will help maintain the adequate amount of moisture in the child’s skin, and minimize the excessive itching resulting from eczema. Look for ingredients that contain ceramides such as my Body Cream

-Healing Balms: For severe flares where this skin is breaking down and raw, a non-irritating and allergen free ointment is often needed. Watch out for lanolin, which has been dubbed the ‘Allergen of the Year’ and is a key ingredient in Aquaphor. 

-Bathing: Taking a bath in lukewarm water for 5-10 minutes helps with dry skin, and gently patting moisturizer right after the bath will allow it to penetrate the skin deeply, and also aid in retaining moisture. Oatmeal baths can also help.

-Avoidance Strategies:  Identifying and avoiding known triggers, such as irritants or allergens, can help reduce eczema flare-ups.

-Gentle Cleansing: Use a gentle body wash that lacks common irritants such as sodium lauryl sulfate to protect the skin barrier, which is often compromised in eczema patients.

Over the counter and Prescription Treatment Options

Treatment for eczema in children typically involves a combination of skincare, lifestyle modifications, and medications. Let’s explore some of the prescription medications that are often recommended to eczema patients based on how severe and repetitive their symptoms are:

-Topical Corticosteroids: There are topical creams, directly applied on the inflamed skin, that help ease itchiness, dryness, and redness caused by eczema.

-Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors: These are medications, primarily to treat moderate to severe eczema, without the risk of skin thinning, which is a side effect of corticosteroids.  This includes pimecrolimus and tacrolimus.

-Antihistamines: Oral antihistamines can help alleviate itching and improve sleep quality during eczema flare-ups.

-Phototherapy: This medical technique is used to treat severe forms of eczema as it involves exposure of the affected skin to UV light

Lifestyle Changes to Help Manage Eczema

In addition to skincare routines and medical treatments, certain lifestyle changes can help manage eczema in children effectively. Some lifestyle modifications include:

-Dietary Adjustments: Some children with eczema may benefit from avoiding certain foods that trigger flare-ups, such as dairy, eggs, nuts, and gluten. Under the guidelines of the health care professional or allergist, one can determine what food triggers eczema symptoms, so that they can refrain from eating such food items, to better manage this chronic skin condition.  

-Clothing Choices Opting for soft, breathable fabrics like cotton and avoiding rough or scratchy materials can help prevent skin irritation and itching. Loose-fitting and baggy clothes can reduce irritation and friction on sensitive skin.  Laundry detergents can also be problematic, so choose something without fragrance or sodium lauryl sulfate. 

-Stress Management: Emotional distress and anxiety are also among the contributing factors, and can have a significant impact on a child’s eczema Encouraging relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or yoga can help manage stress levels and reduce the likelihood of flare-ups.  

-Environmental Control: Maintaining a consistent indoor humidity level, using air purifiers to reduce allergens, and minimizing exposure to tobacco smoke can create a more eczema-friendly environment for children.

Tips for Parents & Caregivers of Children with Eczema

Creating a Supportive Environment

Supporting a child with eczema involves creating a nurturing and understanding environment that promotes their physical and emotional well-being. Some ways to create a supportive environment for a child with eczema include:

-Open Communication: Create a safe space for your child so that they have the freedom to share their thoughts, emotions, and concerns without any hesitation.

-Positive Reinforcement: Show appreciation for the stark patience that your child has showcased while dealing with eczema.

-Empathy and Understanding: Try to be understanding and emphatic to the child, and the pain experienced due to eczema. Provide them comfort in the form of kind reassurance and by lifting their hopes.

Dealing with Emotional Aspects of Eczema in Children

Eczema can be a constant source of nuisance and can hurt the emotional well-being of a child, causing them to feel frustrated, annoyed, and embarrassed. They may find it hard to develop confidence and struggle with their self-esteem. It is important to be emotionally supportive of your child in the following ways:

-Encourage Self-Care: Make your child learn the importance of taking care of their skin, and encourage them to take active participation in their treatment.

-Promote Positive Body Image: Focus on your child's strengths and qualities beyond their skin condition to boost their self-confidence.

-Seek Support: Connect with support groups or mental health professionals who specialize in helping children cope with chronic conditions like eczema.

Educating Others About Eczema

Educating teachers, family members, and other caregivers about eczema is essential for ensuring the child receives proper support outside the home. Provide information on:

-Triggers and Management: Provide necessary knowledge about the most common types of triggers that result in flare-ups and give a general guideline to cope with them effectively.

-Skincare Routine: Share the child's skincare routine and any specific instructions for managing eczema symptoms.

-Emotional Support: Prioritize the emotional well-being of the child by being more considerate and understanding of their concerns.

Through educational awareness about eczema, a strong and supportive network giving importance to this skin condition will be formed for your children, fostering inclusion within the community.

Tips for Preventing Eczema Flare-ups in Children

The most common triggers are allergens, irritants, and climate factors. Keeping a journal of your child's symptoms and activities can help pinpoint specific triggers that lead to flare-ups.

-Maintain Consistent Skincare: Do skincare every day to hydrate and cleanse the skin. Make sure to use products recommended by healthcare providers.

-Avoid Scratching: Encourage the child to resist scratching or rubbing affected areas to prevent further irritation.

-Stay Hydrated: Ensure your child drinks an adequate amount of water to keep their skin hydrated from within.

-Monitor Stress Levels: Encourage your child to participate in stress-relieving exercises such as yoga and meditation or by taking part in activities they enjoy to lower stress levels in your child.

-Avoid hot showers or prolonged bubble baths

When to Seek Professional Help

Slight to mild eczema can easily be taken care of through regular skincare, modifications in lifestyle, and certain medications. However, a moderate to severe form of eczema is when there is an urgent need to seek medical consultation from the healthcare provider. Signs of extreme moderate to severe eczema should not be ignored, get it checked as soon as the symptoms first appear for proper analysis and treatment. The symptoms may include:

-Severe Itching: Perpetual and excessive itching that doesn't go away and disrupts the child’s sleep and everyday routine activities.

-Worsening Redness or Swelling: Elevated level of redness, swelling, and inflammation.

-Skin Infections: Skin infections can occur due to bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Signs to look for include pus, oozing, or cracking of blisters, which can only be treated with antibiotics.

-Pain or Discomfort: If the child is complaining about significant pain or discomfort associated with their eczema.

-Emotional Distress: If your child seems to be depressed, anxious, or lacking confidence and self-esteem as a result of this skin condition, consult with the healthcare provider.

Importance of Regular Follow-ups with Healthcare Providers

Regular follow-ups with healthcare providers are essential for monitoring your child's eczema, adjusting treatment plans as needed, and addressing any new concerns or complications.

Through regular checkups and appointments with healthcare providers, the eczema of the child can be effectively monitored and assessed regularly, which will help identify and examine any new complications. This will allow healthcare providers to come up with a treatment plan tailored to satisfy the needs of the child.

Conclusion

Managing eczema in children requires a multifaceted approach that involves skincare, lifestyle modifications, and medical treatments. By understanding the condition, implementing effective skincare routines, addressing triggers, and seeking professional help when necessary, parents and caregivers can help their children lead healthier, more comfortable lives with eczema. Remember, open communication, empathy, and support are crucial in creating a nurturing environment for children with eczema.

 

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Citations:

  1. What is Eczema?

https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/

  1. What exactly is eczema?

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema

  1.   What can help a child manage eczema triggers at school?

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/childhood/triggers/school

  1.   Could my child have eczema?

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/childhood/child-have

  1.   What is eczema?

https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions/eczema#:~:text=Children%20with%20eczema%20often%20have,within%20the%20first%20five%20years.

  1.   Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/eczema-atopic-dermatitis.html

 

 

 

The information provided by Dr. Rogers is general health information inspired by this topic. The information in the Doctor Rogers web site, and related links, articles, newsletters and blogs, is provided for general information and educational purposes only. It should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem (and is not an extension of the care Dr. Rogers has provided in her office for existing patients of her practice). Use the information and products on this site at your own risk. Use of this site indicates your agreement with these statements and the Terms and Conditions of Doctorrogers.com. If you do not agree to all of these Terms and Conditions of use, please do not use this site!  Never ignore your own doctor’s advice because of something you read here; this information is for general informational purposes only.  There is no doctor patient relationship implied.

 

 

 

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