Your child’s health and comfort are incredibly important, and when anything goes wrong, stress is never far away. Eczema is a very common skin condition for babies. While frustrating, it can be soothed and treated in a number of ways.
Eczema and dermatitis are two names for a skin condition usually characterized by irritated and inflamed skin, but it can appear and manifest in a few different ways. Skin often appears red and inflamed, but sometimes eczema only causes irritation at first, with redness coming as a result of scratching.
Atopic dermatitis refers to the chronic form of eczema that people are born with. Its cause is unknown, but experts believe it has something to do with an autoimmune issue that causes the skin’s natural barrier to become altered.
Many children get eczema, and it is a lifelong illness. Thankfully, for many kids, the symptoms of eczema lessen or completely go away with age. For others, eczema can recur or never go away. Thankfully treatment can make eczema manageable and keep it from negatively impacting your child’s daily activities, no matter how severe.
Eczema can be incredibly itchy and irritating for your child. Their skin can become red and inflamed during an eczema flare up, and these flare ups can be caused by many environmental factors such as weather and even their clothing. While there are types of dermatitis caused by irritants or allergens like poison ivy and certain chemicals, if your child has atopic dermatitis, it can always crop up. There are certain factors (or triggers) that can exacerbate eczema such as winter dryness or certain soaps and detergents. Your child’s reaction to certain food, sweat, saliva (often drool from teething in infants), fabrics, or dyes should also be noted when a flare up occurs.
New England winters can be harsh, but the dry winter air can be more inconvenient than any Nor’Easter. In winter, everybody’s skin becomes dry to some degree. There is less humidity in the air in the cold months that, as we know, can extend from October through March.
Dry skin is probably the most common trigger for eczema. While not every child has the same triggers, dry skin usually brings eczema with it. Dryness and heat can also work to cause flare ups, so make sure your child doesn’t spend too much time close to the fireplace and that their bed is kept away from heating vents or radiators. Use a humidifier to keep the air in your home from becoming too dry.
Good skin care practices are the first line of defense against eczema flare ups. Your child’s dermatologist can recommend a particular routine, but there are a few best practices you can count on to control your eczema.
Keeping skin from becoming dry is key, so baths and moisturizers are you and your child’s best friend in the battle against eczema. When bathing your child, avoid harsh soaps or bubble baths that can cause irritation and dry their skin. When in doubt, think natural. Natural soaps with fewer ingredients and drying chemicals are your best bet.
While a bath does wonders to hydrate your child’s skin, keep in mind that eczema is representative of their skin barrier’s weakness at retaining moisture. It’s key to apply eczema-friendly moisturizers immediately after bathing and drying your child’s skin. This acts as an artificial barrier, making up for their skin’s inability to keep water within. Baths and moisturizing are very important, and if you’ve got it right, your child’s comfort and skin should improve.
As with any skin condition, it’s important to consult a dermatologist in the event that your child’s condition does not improve, or if itching creates open sores. Eczema can lead to infections if untreated.
There are also a number of medical treatments that your dermatologist can prescribe. These can not only soothe your child’s irritation, they can clear away the eczema with great efficiency. If you think your child needs prescription treatment, there are many topical options to explore with their dermatologist. The most common prescription treatments are ointments that contain steroids, which help skin heal quickly. Most topical steroid treatments are recommended for children two years and up.
If your child’s itchy, dry skin seems to make him or her uncomfortable, it may be more than just a little dryness. Eczema can be troublesome, but if you reach out to your New England Dermatologist, the symptoms can be controlled and your child can find comfort once again.
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