Itching and scratching: A guide to dealing with childhood eczema
Childhood eczema is a relatively common condition, and itching and scratching often become quite a nuisance and may even lead to secondary skin infections. Here’s what you need to know.
What causes eczema?
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition thought to arise due to abnormal allergic reactions. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form, and is often associated with other allergic disorders such as food allergies and asthma. Eczema typically presents before the age of five, and may change in nature as the child grows up. Many children outgrow eczema later in childhood or early adulthood.
How does eczema present?
The eczematous rash usually appears on the elbows or knees, but it may occur on the face, scalp, hands or feet. The rash appears red, dry and scaly, and causes significant itchiness and irritation. If your child has been scratching and the skin has become infected, you may also notice yellowish bumps or crusting. The rash tends to flare up every so often, and the skin may become scalier and drier with each exacerbation.
How can you treat the skin?
Keeping the skin well-moisturised and avoiding irritants are the cornerstones of eczema management. Skin should be moisturised regularly and after every bath with petroleum jelly or lotion as advised by your doctor. Scented soaps and bubble bath are best avoided completely. Your doctor may also prescribe a steroid cream to control the skin inflammation, and cold compresses may also be of use in this regard.
How to prevent flare-ups
Try to remove any irritants or allergens, and dress your child in breathable fabrics. Use a mild hypoallergenic laundry detergent. Tell your child to avoid scratching, and keep fingernails short to prevent secondary infections. Finally, it’s worth noting that eczema can flare up in response to stress, so be sure to address any worries or concerns your child may be facing.
The information in this article is intended for general purposes only. If you have any concerns about your health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a healthcare professional.