Childhood eczema is an extremely common problem, and many parents struggle with managing their child’s symptoms. Eczema is a chronic disease and a challenge to manage, but equipped with proper information, parents can help keep the symptoms in check…
What is childhood eczema?
Eczema has a strong genetic component. If both parents have eczema or had eczema as children, they are likely to pass this condition on to their children. Infants and children are most commonly affected, but many grow out of it by their teens, and most (but not all) grow out of it by adulthood. Eczema is not an allergy itself, but allergies can trigger flare-ups in which eczema worsens. There is also growing research that suggests that people with eczema may have a defect in their skin barrier allowing more allergens to enter, and secondly, have an overproduction of antibodies that respond too sensitively to these allergens.
Eczema isn’t caused by a bacteria, fungus or virus; it is an inherited trait, and there is no way to prevent it altogether. There are, however, ways to manage and control the condition and to stop the symptoms from worsening. Some common triggers to avoid include:
- Animal Dander
- Dust Mites
- Certain foods that trigger it
Keep the skin moist:
Dry or dehydrated skin hurts the barrier function and causes itch and discomfort-think of eczema as the failure of the skin to retain the requisite moisture. Moisturizing is one of the easiest and most important ways to protect your child’s skin from eczema, but there are also other ways in which you can help.
- Use moisturizers regularly
- Avoid over-bathing (no more than once a day), and use lukewarm, not hot water
- Use a humidifier during the winter when heaters artificially drain the moisture levels from the air
- Water contact drains moisture from the skin. Washing is important, but it won’t remedy the dryness of the skin; it will make it worse.
- Use 100% cotton clothes and bedding
- Keep cool with loose fitting clothes, and lower temperature at night
- Keep the fingernails short and clean
- Use plenty of moisturizers, ideally, immediately after bathing while the skin is still moist
- Avoid hot water