When a skin rash cannot be blamed on poison ivy or chicken pox, the culprit is eczema. In this condition, the skin turns red, scaly and develops sores. The itching is beyond the limit and the skins starts to shed in the form of scales. Dermatitis is the other name for eczema. Dermatitis actually means inflammation of the skin and the skin turns pink and sore. Eczema is a common child problem as out of ten kids at least one kid gets eczema and majority of them get it before they turn five years old. Children who are above five years are also at a risk of developing eczema, but once they become teenagers, the chances are negligible.
Not only does eczema dries the skin, it also makes it itch horribly. The skin break out can even take the form of rashes. Eczema is a condition which comes and goes frequently and therefore it is chronic. When any foreign bodies come in contact with the skin, a special kind of cells present in the skin will react to them. Basically, they inflame the skin as a measure of protection. The harmful foreign objects trigger the reaction and make these special cells to over react. This turns the skin itchy, sore and red. Children, who get eczema frequently, have a larger quantity of these special cells.
Usually, people who have family members with asthma, hay fever or any allergies are more prone to getting eczema. It is in their genes to get eczema and this problem is passed over to them by their parent. Some scientists say that people, who as children have had eczema, are at a higher risk of developing asthma or hay fever later in their life. Allergies can only make eczema worse. The good news is that eczema is not contagious, so children can be happy about not catching the infection. The first symptom of eczema is rash development. These rashes may seem to go away in the beginning, but will return back. Although eczema itches badly, not all rashes will itch. Eczema will start to develop behind the knees and inside of the elbows. It will slowly spread to the face and other body parts.
Because rashes can be caused due to many other reasons apart from eczema, the doctor will examine the rashes and its cause very carefully. If eczema is confirmed, the child may have to use a moisturizing cream or lotion to stop the itchiness and drying of the skin. In serious cases, the patient will be recommended corticosteroids. It is a steroid cream or ointment which needs to applied to check skin inflammation. If the itching is really irritating, antihistamine can be taken in either liquid or pill form. And if the scratching had resulted in an infection, antibiotics will also be prescribed. The problem doesn’t get solved forever, but it makes the condition better for the time being.
There are certain things which trigger eczema and should be avoided by children who get eczema frequently. Perfumes, detergents, soap, dry air in winters with very little moisture, and sweaty and hot skin. Also when coming in contact with dust mites and scratchy fabrics can increase skin irritation. The child must abstain from scratching even if the skin is itching badly, as that will make the skin itch more badly. The skin can also get infected with bacteria because of skin breaking and bleeding. A washcloth can be dipped on cool water and placed on the area of itchiness. The parents should cut the nails short of the child so that he/she doesn’t hurt himself while scratching. Lastly, lots of water should be consumed to provide moisture to the dry skin.
- More from the American Academy of Pediatrics