Eczema is a common dry skin condition that affects about 10% of all infants and children. Its cause is unknown. It usually runs in families. The skin of children with eczema becomes inflamed, irritated and is usually very itchy. While it is not an infection of the skin, children with eczema can become infected if the skin breaks down and develops open sores. Your child will probably outgrow his eczema by puberty. However, if and when this will happen is different for all children.
Things YOU can do to ease the itching and discomfort for your child:
- Give your child short (less than 5 minutes), cool or lukewarm baths 1-2 times each day. Pat the skin dry after each bath. Do not rub dry.
- Use Dove® (unscented), Cetaphil®, Vanicream® or Oil of Olay® (unscented) soap for bathing.
- Keep the indoor temperature cool:
67-70° F in the winter
78-80° F in the summer
- Avoid wool clothing next to your child’s skin. Cotton clothing is preferable.
- Use fragrance-free and dye-free laundry detergents, such as Tide-free®, Cheer-free®, or All-free and clear®.
- Do not use fabric softeners or bleach on your child’s clothing.
- Avoid cigarette smoke around your child.
Use a Moisturizer as much as possible. In general, ointments are most effective and can be put on less frequently than creams. Lotions tend to be less moisturizing and are not recommended for patients with eczema. Apply the moisturizer to your child’s body 2- 3 times each day. Be sure to put it on immediately after bathing. Recommended moisturizers include: Aquaphor® ointment, Vaseline® petroleum jelly, Cetaphil® cream, Vanicream®, Moisturel® cream or Eucerin® cream. If your child is being treated with a steroid ointment, the moisturizer should be applied on top of the steroid ointment.
Topical steroids: May help to decrease the inflammation and itching. They should only be used on areas of eczema, not on normal skin. The area of the skin affected and the severity of the eczema will determine strength of the topical steroid used. Strong topical steroids should not be used on the face, under arms, groin or diaper area. Topcial steroids are usually used only on affected skin as prescribed by your child’s doctor-you may use hydrocortisone 1% that you can buy over the counter.
May be prescribed to reduce to itching.
(Topical and/or oral) may be used if our child’s skin is infected.