Red, scaly, thick, oozing, are all words used to describe eczema. What exactly is eczema? Dr. Sears says it’s a skin condition with two distinct components: #1 Dry, easily irritated skin Children with this condition have a genetic tendency toward dry skin. Moisture is very important for our skin as it helps skin stay healthy. It prevents irritation and speeds up healing. With eczema, the skin does not retain moisture very well, thus giving it a dry, slightly rough texture and making it prone to irritation. To complicate matters even more, this dry, irritated skin is itchy, causing children to scratch frequently. This further irritates and damages the skin, which leads to worse itching and scratching, and so on. #2 Allergies Children with this condition also have some underlying allergies that are manifested in the skin. This means, that when exposed to these allergens, the skin over-reacts and breaks out in a rash. The already dry and slightly irritated skin is less able to handle this allergic rash, and less able to heal itself quickly.
What does it look like?Well, I happen to be an expert on this since my 4 year old has suffered from it since she was an infant. • The skin is red, dry and itchy • Small bumps and blisters sometimes filled with puss appear • Skin can get excoriating lines and injuries on it • Common places for it to be found are behind the ear and in the creases of the elbows, wrists, and knees.
Could Eczema be keeping your child up at night?Yes, eczema could be keeping your child up at night! Children often get warm at night under their covers and heat can make eczema act up. At bedtime, skin has more contact with clothing and blankets causing more of an irritation, causing your child to wakeup. To make sure this isn’t happening to your child, have them sleep in their own bed where you can control the types of sheets and blankets they use and make sure not to use woolen blankets and plastic mattress protectors.
How do you get rid of Eczema?Unfortunately, eczema is a chronic condition that may go away during teenage years. You can’t get rid of it, so the goal is to just try and control it. Here are some suggestions from Phoenix Children’s Hospital on how to control your child’s eczema.
- Keep your child’s fingernails clean, short, and smooth.
- Keep the skin clean. Wash the child with water and use gentle soap with no smell (fragrance free) only where the child is dirty. Your child should take a shower or bath for 5 to 10 minutes every day.
- After washing, pat your child dry. If the doctor gave you medicine (a prescription) to put on your child’s skin, put it on any skin that feels rough and dry, or that itches your child. Use this medicine two times every day until there is no rash, the skin feels flat, and you child doesn’t itch.
- If there is no rash, after washing put cream on your child’s skin. This will help keep your child’s skin from getting too dry (it lubricates). The cream should have no smell. The best cream to use is petrolatum jelly (Vaseline). Other creams you may use include Aquaphor, Cetaphil, Eucerin, or Nivea. If you used medicine, you can put this cream on over the medicine. Make sure you're using a cream and not a lotion.
- Put non-prescription cream on your child’s skin twice a day, and whenever your child says the skin is dry or itchy. You do not need to bathe your child before putting this extra cream on.
- 20 to 30 minutes before your child goes outside, put a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more on your child.
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