How do you care for your child if they have eczema?
Eczema is a very common skin condition that affects one in five children under the age of one year. The main symptoms are excessive dryness and itching. The condition often results in the appearance of red, scaly, bumpy, rough patches on the body. Eczema often occurs in children who have allergies, hay fever and asthma, or if they have close family members with eczema. The majority of children outgrow the condition but, until they do, their skin requires extra daily care and treatment when flare-ups occur.
Consult your doctor if:
One of the most important things to do is to keep your child’s unusually dry skin well moisturised. This will help to prevent flare-ups of the condition. You need to apply a lotion that moisturises the skin twice daily, as well as after a bath/shower and having gently dried the skin. You should do this even when the rash is not present. Treatment for eczema relies on avoiding substances that break down the skin’s natural moisture barrier (soaps, detergents, shampoos) and using substances that support the skin (oils, moisturisers and barrier creams.)
- your child develops a rash – you may need to apply a steroid cream to reduce the inflammation
- your child’s skin shows signs of infection: increasing redness, swelling, tenderness, pus drainage, red streaks on the skin, fever in association with these other signs
- the rash becomes worse, changes its appearance, or if new symptoms develop along with the rash
- there is no improvement after one week of treatment.
You should also avoid agents which cause sensitivity, for example: fabric softeners or washing powders. Use minimal amounts of non-biological detergent instead. Bathing and showering with lukewarm water will soothe the skin. Use minimal amounts of soap, a bath oil substitute instead of soap, or a soap-free cleanser.
Scratching the skin irritates eczema and can make the rash more severe or introduce infections. Keep your child’s fingernails cut short. There may be times when we recommend an antihistamine cream or lotion to give relief from itching.
So, if a rash occurs, you can consult either of our doctors or our paediatrician and continue to apply a moisturiser to the skin twice daily, along with any prescribed medication. If the rash does not improve, contact us so we can re-evaluate your child.