Common childhood illnesses: Eczema


A common childhood skin condition that many parents notice on their children is eczema. Eczema is a type of skin problem in which the skin becomes excessively dry and the affected area turns very rough, patchy and sometimes, even scaly.

Eczema is mainly seen in very small babies, but can also happen during the early childhood years. It usually appears on the forehead or cheek and then spreads towards the neck and ear areas. By the time the child reaches the first year, it can spread to any part of the body.

In children who are between the ages of one and three, eczema is most common in the areas behind the knee or in the crease of the elbow.

Spotting the symptoms

Initially, you may notice redness on the area where eczema is developing. While the skin will first look pink, it will soon turn into a darker shade of pink. In severe cases, the area will turn red and bright red.

Eczema tends to dry out the skin even further, and can cause a strong itching feeling. Your child will constantly try to scratch the area and this can lead to marks as well as wounds. In such a case, the wound or scratch area can get infected with bacteria, and you may see some spotting or oozing.

Even as the eczema wounds are healing, you will notice crusts that feel dry and rough. Also, it will take some weeks for the affected area to get back its natural skin colour and for signs of discolouration to go away.

What causes it?

In most cases, eczema passes on through someone in the family. Other causes may include food or nasal allergies.

The three conditions, when taken together, are known as atopy, or atopic dermatitis. Temperatures and weather conditions also play a major role in worsening eczema. Dry temperatures and even harsh winter or dry summer months can make the symptoms go worse.

Treating eczema

The first step is to find out what triggers eczema and try to remove these factors as much as possible from your child’s life. Some common food allergens that can trigger or worsen eczema include soy products, wheat, nuts, eggs and some types of fish.

Try the following to help soothe your child suffering from eczema:

  • Keep the bath water warm and not hot.
  • Use a moisturizing natural soap meant for babies.
  • Use proper moisturizers to keep the skin hydrated and prevent dryness.
  • Do not rub the towel but pat dry.
  • Trim baby’s nails to avoid scratching.

Make sure you get your baby examined by a skin specialist to avoid complications.


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