Symptoms typically include dry, scaly skin with red patches that may weep. It is often on the cheeks and forehead of infants but may present anywhere on the body. In many cases, the itching caused by eczema can be severe. Eczema symptoms tend to come and go, but many children who have eczema have their symptoms get worse in the fall and winter with the dry air.
Skin hydration is a key component of the overall management of patients with eczema. To maintain skin hydration, emollients/moisturizers should be applied at least two times per day and immediately after bathing or hand washing.
Lotions, which have a high water and low oil content, can worsen dry skin via evaporation and trigger a flare of the disease. In general, ointments tend to have the greatest moisturizing effect, followed by creams, and then lotions. The best moisturizers for patients with eczema are fragrance free and have the least possible number of preservatives, because these are potential irritants.
Most experts believe bathing every day is acceptable for eczema, but the parents should see what works best for their child. Showers are preferable for older children but baths for no more than 15 minutes are also okay for infants. In either instance, hot water should be avoided as it can aggravate the condition. For swimming, avoid prolonged time in the water and always rinse off after.
When your child finishes bathing, gently pat dry with a soft towel. Do not rub the skin. After drying off, apply any recommended medication from your pediatrician and then cover it with a skin moisturizer. Use only shampoo, soap, moisturizer, and other skin products that are hypoallergenic. They should not contain any dyes or perfumes.
Your pediatrician may recommend a topical steroid cream to help get the eczema under control. If your child’s eczema causes severe itching, your pediatrician may also recommend an oral anti- histamine. Continue to use routine moisturizers in conjunction with these medications.
While it may sound scary, a bath with a small amount of bleach added to the water may help lessen symptoms of chronic eczema. Talk to your pediatrician prior to trying a bleach bath. Mayo Clinic recommends for best results:
Additional measures include avoiding tight, rough clothing or fabrics that irritate the skin (e.g. wool) as well as using a humidifier in the home.
Recommended Skincare: Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy, Cetaphil Baby Daily Lotion, CeraVe Baby Moisturizing Lotion, Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Crème (cannot be used for babies under 3 months old)