Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition, that causes dry skin. It appears as patches that are red and intensely itchy. These patches of eczema may ooze, become scaly, crusted, or hardened. There are many types of eczema, with the most common one being atopic dermatitis.
What causes Eczema?
The main cause of eczema is not really known. There are various types of eczema that can be caused by both hereditary and environmental factors. Children are more likely to develop eczema as babies, if a parent has or had eczema. Most children will grow out of the flareups and their eczema, while others will continue to have symptoms and remissions their entire life.
There can be various triggers to your child's eczema. Finding those triggers can be challenging but there are a few things you can watch out for:
Sudden change in temperature
Some foods that can trigger eczema include:
gluten or wheat
spices, such as vanilla, cloves, and cinnamon
some types of nuts
Eczema triggers can change as your child gets older, so you may have to pay attention to the symptoms.
What does Eczema Look Like?
When a child has eczema, their skin is extremely sensitive. The more sensitive their skin is, the higher the chances of them reacting to triggers. Eczema can appear in various forms. You might notice itchy patches on the hands, elbows, and in the "bending" areas of the body, such as the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. Eczema can appear anywhere, including the neck, chest, and eyelids.
Treatment Options for Eczema
Although there is no cure for eczema, there are several different things you can try to manage the symptoms.
1. Know the triggers - If there is something you know triggers your child's eczema, try your best to avoid that trigger. Write it down and monitor how it may effect your child because these triggers can change over time.
2. Implement a regular bath and moisturizing schedule - If your child is really young, submerging them in water everyday and using soap is not necessary. This may actually be drying out your little one's skin. Try alternating days and using an eczema friendly soap. These have a higher percentage of colloidal oatmeal, which can be soothing for the skin.
After the bath, lightly pat your child down, leaving the skin still slightly damp. This is the best time to apply moisturizer. This helps lock in the extra moisture after their bath. We would recommend moisturizing more than one time of day - I have had to do this 3-4 times a day to help heal the irritated areas. **Note: Use a moisturizer over a lotion. It is thicker and helps treat eczema better than lotion.
3. Use 100% pure almond or olive oil - These oils can help to moisturize the area and soften hard, scaled over areas. DO NOT use these oils if your child is going to be outside in the sun all day. This can make the situation worse. We would also recommend trying the oil is a small patch before applying all over the skin. You want to make sure your child does not have any adverse reactions. You can also add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your oil of choice. The lavender has a calming effect and can help soothe the skin.
4. Use Free and Clear detergents and Soaps - Regular detergents and soaps can have many chemicals and irritants that can effect your child's skin. Using a free and clear detergent and soap can help eliminate some of these irritants.
5. Use of over-the-counter medications - Your doctor can advise you on the over-the-counter medications that will work best for your child's situation. You can use them frequently and as prescribed by your doctor.
6. Breast Milk - This one probably seems like an odd one but it eliminated my son's eczema patch after trying EVERYTHING else and only finding temporary relief. I took a little breast milk and applied it to the rough eczema patch. I did this for about three days and it completely cleared up the spot. It has been a few months now and nothing has returned.
Treatment of eczema can be a process of trial and error. What will work for one person, may not work for the next. I have tried several treatments for my son and final found what worked for him. You will have to do the same. Follow some of what we suggested above and hopefully those preventative steps and treatment options will work for you!