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Eczema in Children: How to Help

Does your kid have eczema? We can help. Read on for tips on treating eczema in kids

Here's how to help treat eczema in children

Eczema can be a real problem when it occurs in childhood. One out of ten children are diagnosed with eczema, typically before age five. It can be hard to watch your child struggling with itchy, rough and reddened skin. In children, eczema is more likely to become infected, as it can cause cracks in the skin that allow the entrance of germs.

It can be especially difficult for a child who has eczema outbreaks on the face, neck or arms where others can see the rough scaly skin. Children tend to scratch their eczema rash which can cause brown raised patches of scaly skin known as lichenification. These can be both embarrassing and uncomfortable.

What Causes Eczema in Children?

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, often runs in families. It is more common in families who commonly suffer with allergies, hay fever or asthma. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes eczema. It is believed to be triggered by a variety of things in a way similar to allergies, though it’s not the same as a typical allergic reaction and triggers may be difficult to identify. Eczema outbreaks usually begin with itching. Then as the child scratches the itch, a red, scaly rash will appear.

There are a variety of treatments available for eczema, both by prescription and over the counter. While some of the best eczema cream choices available over the counter can be very helpful to relieve eczema outbreaks, there are some other things that a parent can do to help.

Bathing a Child With Eczema

Children who are prone to eczema should bathe in warm, but not hot water. Hot water can further dry the skin and worsen eczema outbreaks. Children’s bathing time should be limited to five or ten minutes to lessen the frequency and severity of eczema flare-ups. A child with eczema should only be washed in a mild, fragrance-free cleanser and only when needed, and bubble bath should be avoided. Oatmeal soaks in the bath may help soothe a child’s itchy eczema.

If the child has a prescription medication for eczema treatment it should be applied after bathing and after the child is gently patted dry with a towel. First, any prescription medication should be applied. Then an eczema cream or lotion should also be applied. This is known as the “soak and seal” method.

Some of the best eczema cream choices are now available over the counter. A moisturizing eczema cream should be applied twice a day all over the child’s skin.

Laundry Tips for Children with Eczema

Children who suffer with eczema should have their clothes and bedding washed in mild laundry detergent for sensitive skin. Fragrance-free detergents should be used, and fabric softener and dryer sheets should be avoided as they can cause flare-ups. Make sure clothes are well-rinsed. It may be beneficial to put laundry through an extra rinse cycle. All newly purchased clothing should be washed before a child wears it to remove any fabric finishers and excess dye. Soft fabrics in natural fabrics such as 100 percent cotton may help to avoid flare-ups.

General Tips for Children with Eczema

Keep the fingernails of a child with eczema trimmed short and smooth with no sharp edges. This can help keep skin from splitting and causing infection. Putting soft cotton gloves on your child during sleep can help keep a child with eczema from scratching.

Keep the child away from excess dry heat or humidity. Sweating is a common trigger for an eczema outbreak as it can begin the itch and scratch cycle.

Make sure your child with eczema drinks plenty of water. Staying well-hydrated helps to prevent dry skin which can cause the itching that leads to an eczema flare-up.

Tips for Choosing the Best Eczema Cream For Your Child

When choosing a moisturizer for a child with eczema you should consider an ointment or a thick cream. Petroleum jelly-based eczema creams work well for children. Avoid any products containing alcohol, as that can contribute to drying the skin. The best eczema cream options should not only be alcohol-free, they should also be fragrance-free. Moisturizer can be softened by rubbing in your palms first before applying it to your child. This will help the cream to glide on more smoothly. Eczema cream should never be rubbed into a child’s skin, it should be stroked on in a smooth, downward motion.

Resources— Kid's Health, National Eczema Association , American Academy of Dermatology 

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