Allergies aren’t always to blame for eczema, but the two often go together. Studies show that 1 in 3 infants will have eczema. Here's what you need to know about these conditions in kids, plus advice on how to treat them.
- Symptoms include a dry, itchy, scaly, red rash. It may ooze and crust over, especially if your child scratches it.
- Eczema is common on the arms, elbows, legs, knees, hands, and face.
- The rash can be quite irritating. It can make it hard for kids to sleep.
- Soaps and cosmetics, cleaners, wool, dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and dry weather can cause flare-ups.
- Eczema won't spread from one part of the body to another, or from one person to another.
- Eczema in kids often fades. Most babies outgrow it by the time they're teens or even earlier.
How Do Eczema and Allergies Affect Each Other?
- Kids with allergies -- especially to foods like milk and peanuts -- are more likely to have eczema.
- Having parents with allergies or asthma increases a child's risk of eczema.
- Kids with eczema are more likely to get allergies and asthma later in life.
- Keeping your kid away from allergy triggers can ease eczema symptoms.
How Do You Treat Them?
If your child has symptoms, see a doctor. There are lots of ways to control eczema and allergies.
- Tests. Your doctor may want to test your child for allergies to foods -- like milk, egg, peanut, soy, and wheat -- and other substances. Positive results from allergy testing need to be confirmed.
- Food elimination diets. If your doctor suggests it, you can cut out common trigger foods, one at a time. That will help you figure out if a food is to blame.
- Ointments and moisturizers. These products can ease mild eczema symptoms. Choose one that’s thick, and put it on right after your child gets out of a bath or shower.
- Medication.Steroid creams can relieve more severe symptoms.
Follow these steps to stop the problem before it starts.
- Allergy-proof your home, so your child won't be exposed to high levels of things like dust mites and dander.
- Keep her skin moist. Dry skin can trigger eczema.
- Keep fingernails short. That way, your child is less likely to irritate her skin by scratching. Put socks on your baby's hands to stop scratching when she's asleep.
- Keep your child cool in summer. Hot weather and sweat can make symptoms worse.
- Use non-scented soaps. Avoid harsh cleaners. Chemicals can irritate the skin.
- Dress your child in soft, loose-fitting, cotton clothing. Avoid wool and nylon.
- Protect your child from dry, cold weather. Dress her warmly when it's cold (but don't overheat). Use a humidifier in the winter when the air is dry.