- An itchy rash that your doctor told you was eczema
- Eczema is a chronic skin disease
- Recurrent flare-ups of severe itching occur
- The medical name for eczema is atopic dermatitis
Symptoms of Eczema
- The main symptom is itching. If it doesn't itch, it's not eczema.
- With flare-ups (itching attacks), the rash becomes red or even raw and weepy.
- Onset: Average onset at 3 months old. Range: 1-6 months old. Usually begins by 2 years old.
- Location: Classic eczema starts on the cheeks at 1 to 6 months of age. It can spread to the rest of the face. In infants, the outer surfaces of the arms and legs also become involved.
- In older children, eczema is found in the joint creases. The elbows, wrists, and knees are the most common places.
- The rash is usually the same on both sides of the body.
Cause of Eczema
- A type of dry, sensitive skin that children inherit.
- Flare-ups are from skin contact with soap, shampoo, pollen or other irritating substances.
- About 30% of babies with severe eczema also have food allergies. The most common is cow's milk.
- Over 10% of children have eczema. It's the most common skin condition of the first 10 years.
Triggers of Eczema Flare-Ups
- Soaps. Never use bubble bath. It can cause a major flare-up.
- Pollens. Keep your child from lying on the grass during grass pollen season.
- Animals. Avoid any animals that make the rash worse.
- Foods. If certain foods cause severe itching (flares), avoid them.
- Wool. Avoid wool fibers and clothes made of other scratchy, rough materials.
- Dry Air. Use a humidifier if the air in your home is dry.
- Herpes Virus Infection (Serious). Keep your child away from anyone with fever blisters (cold sores). The herpes virus can cause a serious skin infection in children with eczema.
- Eczema is not caused by laundry soap you use to wash clothing.
- Mild: doesn't interfere with normal activities
- Moderate: interferes with child care or school, sleep, or other normal activities
- Severe: constant itching that can't be controlled
Food Allergy and Eczema Flare-Ups
- Food allergies are a factor in 30% of young children with severe eczema. This factor is mainly seen in babies.
- The main allergic foods are cow's milk and eggs.
- The main symptoms are increased skin redness and itching. Some parents report these symptoms start during or soon after the feeding.
- The eczema becomes easier to control if you avoid the allergic food.
Diagnosing Food Allergy and Eczema Flare-Ups
- Your child's doctor may suggest the steps listed below:
- Remove the suspected food or foods from your child's diet for 2 weeks. The eczema should greatly improve.
- Then give your child that food when the eczema is under good control. This is called a "challenge."
- If the food is causing flare-ups, the eczema should become itchy and red. The flare-up should occur quickly within 2 hours of eating the food.
- If this occurs, avoid giving this food to your child. Talk to your child's doctor about the need for any food substitutes.
- If the eczema does not flare-up, your child isn't allergic to that food.