Eczema in Children

What is eczema?

Eczema is a common skin problem seen in many children, also known as atopic dermatitis, which causes skin to be irritated, red, dry, bumpy, and itchy.

eczema in children

Eczema signs and symptoms

  • Dry, itchy skin is the main symptom
  • Redness, scales, bumps that can leak fluid or become crusty
  • Symptoms can flare up from time to time, and may be more noticeable at night

Infants below 1 year old usually have eczema on their head, scalp or cheeks. It may also spread to the knees and elbows.

In older children and teens, the rash usually occurs on the inner elbows, behind the knees, on the inner wrists and ankles. This usually causes the skin to become drier and scalier, and possibly thicker and scarred from the scratching.

What causes eczema?

The exact cause of eczema is not known. A person’s genetics and environment tend to play a role in eczema. When something outside the body “triggers” the immune system, skin cells do not react as they should, causing flare ups.

There is also a tendency for those with a family history of allergic conditions such as asthma and allergic rhinitis to develop eczema as well.

Eczema triggers

Some common triggers of eczema include

  • Heat and sweating
  • Dry skin
  • Irritants
  • Allergens (e.g. dust, food allergies)
eczema in children, scratching

How do you cure eczema?

There is no cure for eczema. However, there are treatments that can help with the symptoms. Some are topical and applied to the skin, these can be moisturisers which keep the skin from getting dry, or corticosteroids (steroid creams or ointments), which ease the inflammation of the skin. Others are medications taken by mouth, such as antihistamines.

Some children do outgrow eczema, with it going away by age 4. However, some children may continue to have dry, sensitive skin as they grow up, even into adulthood.