Wednesday, 27 August 2008


the first thing to know about eczema is that it is a common condition in childhood it affects a fifth of the children in the UK, the good news on this statistic is that 75 % of those children grow out of it by puberty.

It is thought that eczema has a genetic basis and tends to run in families. It is often associated with other conditions such as asthma or hay fever. Children with eczema have dry, sensitive skin which is easily irritated by certain chemicals (such as soaps or bubble bath solution) and by contact with woollen or polyester garments. In some children and adults for that matter, diet seems to play a role in eczema, although it is often very difficult to find the offending food. Eczema is not contagious.

It is characterised by a very itchy, red rash, usually present in patches on the elbow creases and behind the knees, although it may occur on the face, neck, hands and feet almost anywhere.

In babies it usually starts with the cheeks then moves to the wrists,ankles, folds behind the knees and on the inside of elbows. The rash may develop cracks and weep or bleed, especially when the child scratches excessively because of the itch. the scratching can cause the area to get infected by bacteria, which enter the skin via the cracks. In between attacks of eczema, the skin looks thickened and dry. Eczema usually begins at some time during the childhood, often in the first few months of life. The main truiggers seem to be soap which dries the skin, dust mites and occasionally foods such as dairy, eggs and fish.

Eczema cannot be cured. The key it living with the condition is to try to prevent severe flare-ups, the way to do that is to treat symptoms as soon as they appear. Eczema is worsened when the skin is dry, so oils and moisturising creams applied directly to the skin are helpful, as is the use of bath oils, all these things help to prevent the skin from becoming dry but be careful to only use products which are specially formulated to help with the condition or some non perfume products such as aqueous creams as perfumed products can aggravate the condition.

If your child is scratching at the rash, try putting cotton mittens on their hands at night, cut nails short and keep them clean. If their scratching becomes constant, see your doctor equally if the rash becomes infected, your doctor will probably recommend a short course of antibiotics.

If the eczema is servere your G.P. may prescribe steroid creams to help but always read the instructions very carefully and use as instructed, as this type of cream can lead to thinning of the skin.

What you can do to help
Try to dress your child in cotton clothes and more spercifically underwear as they are more comfortable for your child than woollens or synthetics, keep the child cool, as overheating can make the itch worse also avoid very hot baths or showers are also aggravating. Use creams after your childs bath to keep the skin supply and prevent it from drying. It maybe worth looking into food intolerances to see if the out breaks are linked to a food allergy

For more information try The National Eczema society at