Eczema (Atopic dermatitis)

Eczema is a chronic skin condition that causes red, dry, itchy skin that flares up from time to time. The problem is within the skin because there is a decreased ability to maintain moisture and hydration to the skin. Usually there is a family history of eczema, allergies, and/or asthma. Although eczema is a chronic condition, some children can grow out of it.

Eczema tends to appear on the face and scalp in babies, and elbow and knee creases in toddlers. Although, it may appear anywhere on the body. There should not be any pus, crusting, or bubbles/vesicles on the skin. These are signs of skin infection and your pediatrician should be notified.

The key to eczema management is hydration, hydration, hydration! It is important to apply fragrance-free and dye-free lotions and ointments to the skin every day, multiple times a day. After a bath or shower, seal in all that moisture with lotion or ointment. Keep fingernails trimmed. Make sure to use soaps and laundry detergents that are made for sensitive skin (fragrance-free and dye-free).

Using over-the-counter topical steroids may be necessary to relieve itching and inflammation, but only for a short period of time. If none of these measure help, notify your pediatrician because a prescription strength steroid may be needed. Steroids are only used for acute eczema flare-ups and for a short amount of time. For trouble sleeping due to severe itching, a short course of Benadryl can be used at bedtime. Allergy testing may be considered to identify any potential triggers.

If your child’s rash has any signs of crusting, bleeding, pus, swelling, bubbles/vesicles, or associated fever, please notify your pediatrician.

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