What is Eczema?
Eczema is a dry skin condition that causes the skin to become inflamed and itchy. It usually begins early in childhood and affects about 20% of Children. A child is more likely to develop an eczema if there is a family history of eczema, hayfever or asthma. Although children with eczema are more likely to develop food allergy, food allergies do not cause eczema. Eczema can not be cured but can be controlled effectively with good day to day management. Poorly managed eczema can lead to poor sleep and can lead to long term issues on learning and development. Fortunately there is a good chance that a child’s eczema will improve or disappear as they get older.
Signs and symptoms.
- Skin feels dry and rough and it is itchy
- In babies the rash often involves their face.
- In older children the skin in the creases of their elbows, knees, around the neck is often affected.
How to manage eczema
- Keep skin moisturised
- Use emollients such as fatty cream, sorbolene several times a day all over the body and face. Apply as frequently as needed (hourly if necessary)
- You can get moisturisers for eczema from the doctor
- Use soap substitute such as aqueous cream or other moisturisers for washing body and hair.
- For children with severe eczema, antiseptic(such as bleach) in the bath might be recommended by a doctor.
- Use topical steroids for red and itchy (inflamed) skin
- When the inflammation is gone, you can stop the steroid cream but continue with moisturisation.
- Mild steroid such as Hydrocortisone 1% is used for face and more potent steroid can be used on the body.
- Avoid trigger
- Getting too hot can make eczema worse, stay cool
- Fragrances are a common trigger for eczema, only use product that are designed for eczema
- Chlorine and salt water can dry the skin and make eczema worse therefore best washed off quickly.
- Removing food from the diet usually do not work for eczema, please talk to your doctor before you consider this.
- Avoid and identify infection.
- Keep the finger nails short, to avoid introducing infection from scratching
- Regular Antiseptic (such as bleach) bath maybe recommended by a doctor for poorly controlled eczema
- Identifying secondary infection from eczema is important as they can be quite serious
- Staph infection – If crusting, ooze or pus is seen, the eczema is likely infected by bacteria most commonly staph. Please talk to the doctor.
- Cold sore virus infection – if painful punched out spots develop on the eczema, see your doctor immediately.