Eczema is a common skin problem that causes inflammation and intense irritation, causing the skin to appear red and itchy. Children experience eczema problems when they are overly sensitive to allergens or irritants like dust mites, animal fur and pollen. It is not an allergy itself, but allergies can trigger eczema.
Children can experience eczema as early as two to six months old. Statistics have shown that one in 10 children will develop eczema. Most kids display symptoms within the first few months or before 5 years old, but they usually overcome eczema problems by their teenage years.
Symptoms of eczema
At different ages and phases, kids display different symptoms. Between two to six months, eczema usually result in itchy, dry and red patches on the child’s face, scalp, arms and legs. They may also experience scaly and itchy rashes on the elbows, knees, wrists and ankles. The main sign of eczema is the constant itching of the skin. To relieve the itch, children tend scratch themselves, resulting in bleeding, or thickened brown patches on the skin.
Many kids tend to outgrow eczema and the condition disappears by the age of five to six. Some kids may experience a return of eczema problems when they hit puberty and some may carry it into adulthood. Although research has shown that eczema is likely to be inherited and hence, unavoidable, it is not contagious. It can also be alleviated by avoiding possible triggers such as pollen, mold, dust, animal fur, harsh soap, certain fabric and food, excessive heat, stress and more.
Since itching is the main problem, relieving the itch to prevent a child from scratching him or herself is a way to make the condition better for the child and to prevent worsening of the eczema.
Medication for eczema
If you take your child to the paediatrician or GP for eczema, your child would most likely be given steroid creams known as topical corticosteroids. These are prescribed creams specific to the child’s condition, hence it is important not to use other topical corticosteroids on your child. They are usually applied directly to the affected areas for a short period of time or as long as the doctor suggests. In cases where the eczema is infected, antibiotics and other medicine may be given to control the condition.
At home, you can help to create a better environment that will prevent the worsening of the itch. Remove all things that could trigger allergies such as flowers with pollen, harsh soap and detergent, artificial scent or air fresheners, soft toys or unsuitable beddings. If your child has eczema, you may want to put off the idea of keeping a pet at home as animal fur could be one of the causes. Keep the house free of dust and humidity could also help to improve your child’s eczema problems.
Keep the skin moisturized
Itching could also be worsened by dry skin, hence it will be helpful to keep the skin of the child moisturized and hydrated. Moisturizers and lotion can help to prevent the skin from drying even further. Avoid using alcohol based products and those that contain perfume or artificial fragrance. Applying moisturisers and lotions after bath is helpful as the skin tend to be drier after a bath or shower. Even when the signs of eczema have disappeared, continue the moisturizing routine so that skin irritation will be reduced.
Soap and bubble baths can dry and irritate the skin. Switching to mild, fragrance-free soaps or non-soap cleansers that are appropriate for sensitive skin can help to reduce irritation and worsening of eczema. Wool, nylon and synthetic fabric are also considered as fabric that could be too harsh for the skin. Since the weather in Singapore is always hot and humid, keep your child in lightweight, breathable cotton clothing to prevent sweat from trapping and irritating the skin further. Soft cotton bedsheets, blankets and covers would also help to prevent irritation when the child is sleeping. Keep these fabrics clean at all times so that dust and dirt will not accumulate and cause itching.
There are many organic and natural products that are appropriate to the sensitivity of children’s skin such as Twinkle, which has a series of organic baby oils and mists. For more information, visit: www.twinkle.com.sg