Childhood Eczema 101

January 23, 2020

Childhood Eczema 101

According to the Eczema Society of Canada, eczema is a “chronic, pruritic, relapsing inflammatory skin condition" which can impact people of all ages but is most commonly diagnosed in children, especially babies between two and six months of age. It is caused by a dysfunctional skin barrier due to genetic, immunologic and environmental factors. Although there is no definite cure for eczema, it is not contagious and symptoms can be controlled so patients can live quite comfortably.

Where does eczema usually appear?

The areas of the body that eczema affects tends to vary with age. In babies, a patchy rash usually appears on the face, elbows, and knees. Diaper rash is also common. In older children, the rash appears most often behind the knees, inside the elbows, on the sides of the neck, and on the wrists, ankles, and hands.

How can I help my child?

You can help prevent eczema in your child by keeping the skin soft and moist using DH Baby Lotion or Natural Specialty Cream and avoiding known triggers that cause itching and flare-ups.

You may find that your child's eczema is worse in the colder, dryer months as your child becomes more prone to having dry skin. Use a humidifier and keep moisturizing your child's skin. Dress your child in layers so that the layers can be taken off to prevent your child from overheating and sweating.  Avoid wool and rough fabrics.

In the warmer months, help your child stay cool to avoid sweating. Sweating may cause itching, and scratching will worsen eczema in the affected areas.  Apply gentle, non-irritating sunscreen to protect your child's skin from the sun.

Some common eczema triggers and irritants include:

  • Metals, in particular, nickel

  • Cigarette smoke

  • Soaps and household cleaners

  • Fragrances

  • Certain fabrics such as wool and polyester

  • Antibacterial ointment like neomycin and bacitracin

  • Formaldehyde, which is found in household disinfectants, some vaccines, glues and adhesives

  • Isothiazolinones an antibacterial that is found in personal care products like baby wipes

When should you call your child’s doctor?

Children with eczema are prone to skin infections. Call your child’s doctor if you notice signs of skin infection, which may include: fever, redness and tenderness, or pus-filled bumps on or around affected areas. Also, call your child’s doctor if you notice a sudden change or worsening of your child’s condition.