Eczema in children can sometimes be very difficult to manage and be painful for both the child and parents. But more importantly, what exactly is eczema? Eczema refers to a skin condition whereby the skin is inflamed or irritated. Although eczema can affect just anyone of any age, it is very common in babies and young children. Eczema in children can be triggered by various external factors such as allergens, irritants as well as environmental factors.
What Causes Eczema in Children?
In terms of allergens, while most babies and young children tend to develop allergies for common food such as milk, eggs, soy, or wheat, it is in fact possible for certain foods to worsen existing eczema conditions. This is because certain allergens can cause the body’s immune system to overreact and result in an eczema flare-up. Not only that, but other allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, and pollen is also a contributing factor to eczema flare-ups. Parents who suspect certain foods to worsen their child’s eczema are encouraged and should consult a doctor to determine the possible foods that trigger their child’s eczema flare-ups.
Irritants on the other hand play a role in causing further inflammation to the skin. These irritants could mean anything, this varies from the type of soap or skin product used or even the type of clothing material. Studies have shown that soaps that contain harsh chemicals such as propylene glycol, formaldehyde, and salicylic acid or even dye can worsen eczema in children. Other than that, clothing materials such as wool, polyester and nylon cause a build-up in moisture resulting in excessive sweat and irritation which then worsens one’s eczema.
Not only that, but there are in fact, many environmental factors that play a role in triggering eczema in children. These factors include cigarette smoke due to the tobacco content, cleaning products, certain fragrances, the weather, dust as well as certain object surfaces. In terms of the weather, dry and cold climates, extreme heat, and humidity (sleeping with the air-conditioning on may lead to dry and irritated skin due to the low humidity) are some of the contributing factors in eczema flare-ups.
Where Does Eczema Appear?
Like eczema in adults where it normally grows almost anywhere on the body, babies tend to frequently develop eczema on their face, cheeks, and/or scalp. Research has shown that 60% of people who have eczema first experience symptoms as a child and that 90% of people develop the skin condition before the age of five. With that, eczema on a child’s face is normally accompanied by uneven dry and scaly patches or many tiny red bumps and can also sometimes look darker on people with black or brown colored skin.
Furthermore, in younger children, eczema can also begin making an appearance on the elbow creases, around the neck and eyes, and/or back of the knees. Children between the ages of 2 years and puberty tend to develop scaly and itchy patches more frequently around the elbow creases, behind the knees and around the eyes.
With time, the skin’s appearance may change over time, which can result in more bumps, discoloration, and thickness, therefore, becoming itchier. However, it is also a known fact that most children will normally outgrow eczema, but it is still possible for their eczema to persist until adulthood.
Does My Child Have Eczema?
Some of the more common symptoms of eczema in children include dry, scaly skin that itches. Furthermore, some children may not be able to resist the urge to itch, that they may develop tiny blisters on the surface of their skin. In more severe cases, these blisters may be larger, and fluid filled. With that, incessant scratching and touching of the infected area increases the risk of the skin breaking resulting in painful cracks and sores where infections are more likely to occur.
Flare-ups on the other hand indicate a more severe and worsened state of eczema in children. Flare-ups normally happen after being exposed to certain irritants or allergens that can trigger it. With that, flare-ups can be avoided by being wary of certain things used such as types of soaps, cleaning agents, pet dander, certain fabrics than can irritate the skin.
When Should My Child See a Doctor?
On top of that, it is always important to bring your child to consult a doctor if your child experiences the following:
Infected eczema patches contain billions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses due to the persistent scratching and breakage of the skin. With that, the eczema patch can become infected, inflamed, and sore causing more severe symptoms to occur such as a fever.
2. Not Sleeping Well or Able To Do Daily Activities
Children who suffer from severe eczema may experience immense discomfort during their day-to-day activities due to the uncontrollable itch which can result in an inability to focus in school or normal daily activities, and sleeplessness which can put their mental and physical health at risk.
3. Skin Infections
Children with severe eczema could potentially develop skin infections due to the intense itching whereby red streaks begin to appear on the skin along with pus and/or scabs on some occasions.
4. Inflamed Skin
Not only that but severe eczema in children can also cause inflammation to the skin where the skins begin to feel warm to the touch and reddish in color.
How Can My Child Avoid Eczema?
There are in fact numerous way to avoid eczema in children. Firstly, is by using clinically proven moisturizers. It is always encouraged to opt for products that contain ceramide which helps keep skin cells healthy. Other than that, moisturizers that contain probiotics are also another great alternative to help maintain the health of the skin as well as nourish the microbial condition.
Furthermore, it is advised to avoid products that contain fragrances, perfume, ingredients that are prone to skin irritation as well as dyes or colorings.
Lastly, always make sure to use prescription medication as directed, wear clothes that have skin-friendly materials such as cotton, linen, silk, etc., keeping fingernails short to avoid further scratches that might break the skin and wearing baby mittens during bedtime.
If your child’s eczema persists and medical attention is required, do not hesitate to bring them to the nearest hospital or clinic to get it treated.
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