Eczema is common in young children and often requires special care to help prevent flare-ups, spreading, and itching. Some more severe cases of eczema can be uncomfortable for children, even leaving the skin raw or broken in places.
While your dermatologist should oversee treatment methods and care, you can do some simple things on a day-to-day basis to help with the severity of your child's eczema.
Bathe With Care
Baths are an important part of your child's hygiene, but a bath can make an already painful problem worse for kids with severe eczema. Hot water dries out the skin, increasing the prevalence of red, flaky patches. To reduce the impact of a bath on your child's skin, be sure to:
- Avoid soaps and bubbles. Many soaps remove the natural oils from the skin. You can shampoo your child's hair, but wash the rest of the body with water and washcloth. Use soap for unsanitary accidents that require disinfection.
- Bathe less frequently. Instead of using a full bath to wash your child every day, consider saving baths for severe messes. Wash your child with a damp washcloth each day to wipe away dirt instead.
- Use only warm water instead of hot water. Lukewarm baths will not dry out the skin as much. Your child may not be able to stay in the bath as long without the water getting cold, but their skin will be much healthier.
With careful bathing, your child will be clean and well-groomed without making eczema worse.
The battle against eczema hinges on moisture; the drier the skin, the worse the problem becomes. You can help by moisturizing the skin daily. Avoid commercial adult hand lotions as these are high in alcohol content and can make dry skin worse. They only provide temporary relief.
Instead, look for creams that have real oils and petroleum jelly that will trap moisture in the skin. You might need to moisturize more often in dry conditions, especially in the winter time. Consider placing a humidifier in your child's room at night.
Many child develop eczema as a reaction to an irritant. If your child has an allergy, they can also get eczema breakouts as a result of an allergic reaction. Some foods, environmental exposures, soaps, or plants may make eczema worse. Some common triggers include:
- Dog, horse, or cat hair. Pet dander is a common allergy, and some children may develop scaly red patches on their skin wherever a dog or cat comes in contact with them.
- Harsh laundry soap and cleaners. Your pediatrician may recommend laundry soap that is designed to be gentler on the skin. Some green laundry soaps and household cleaners have fewer additives, scents, and chemical fabric softeners.
- Milk allergies. Children who are allergic to milk protein may show signs of skin irritation from drinking or even touching milk and milk products.
- Pollen and grass. Has your child ever gotten seasonal allergies or hives from playing outdoors in the grass? Because some types of eczema are inflammatory, break outs are common when the body is exposes to a substance that causes an inflammatory response in other areas of the body.
- Wheat sensitivity and other food allergies. A skin flare up is a common secondary reaction to certain foods.
The only way to know what triggers your child's eczema is to keep a close eye on the reactions and find patterns. A dermatologist may perform a skin prick test to narrow down allergies, especially for very painful forms of eczema like psoriasis.
Follow Medication Procedure
Most types of eczema can be managed with the help of topical steroid creams. These creams should be applied as directed. Try not to miss a day, and never borrow or use cream intended for someone else. The strength of a cream can vary based on the age of your child and the severity of the condition. Only use cream given to you by your doctor.
For more information, contact us at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Specialists.