Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) and Your Child
Here is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about eczema and how to help your child prevent flare-ups and manage the symptoms.
Who gets eczema?
Anyone can get eczema, but it is most common in babies, children, and young adults. Eczema often runs in families with a history of eczema or other allergic conditions, such as hay fever and asthma. It is not contagious.
About 65% of patients who develop eczema develop symptoms before age 1 year, and about 90% of these patients develop symptoms before age 5 years. Many babies outgrow eczema by age 4 years.
Some children outgrow eczema by the time they are young adults, although their skin remains dry and sensitive.
A few people may have eczema all their lives, but there are ways to relieve the symptoms.
What are the symptoms of eczema?
The symptoms of eczema are different with each child. Common symptoms include dry, red, itchy skin and rashes. These rashes can be oozing or very dry. Because eczema is a chronic skin problem, these symptoms can come and go. There are times when the symptoms are worse (called flare-ups or exacerbations) followed by times when the skin gets better or clears up completely (called remissions).
Eczema can appear anywhere on the body or in just a few areas.
In babies, a rash often appears on the face and scalp.
In younger children, a rash often appears in the folds of the elbows and knees.
In teens and young adults, a rash often appears on the hands and feet.
How can flare-ups be prevented?
One of the most helpful things you can do is to prevent flare-ups before they happen.
Keep your child’s skin moisturized. Moisturizing should be a part of your child’s daily treatment plan.
Use fragrance-free moisturizers. Cream or ointment is more moisturizing than lotion.
After a bath, gently pat the skin with a towel and then apply moisturizer to the damp skin.
Apply moisturizer at least once a day, or more often if needed.
Moisturizer should be applied to the face and entire body.
Avoid irritants. People who are sensitive to scratchy fabrics or chemicals in soaps and detergents should
Wear soft fabrics, such as 100% cotton clothing.
Use mild, fragrance-free body cleansers.
Take short baths with room temperature water.
Use mild laundry detergent with no dyes or perfumes.
Skip using fabric softener in the dryer.
Remind your child not to scratch. Scratching can make the rash worse and lead to infection. Also, the more your child scratches, the itchier the area will be. Keep your child’s fingernails short and smooth, and try to distract your child from scratching.
Ask your child’s doctor if allergies could be associated with eczema. Sometimes allergies, such as ones to food, pets, pollens, or dust mites (in bedding), can trigger the rash or make it worse. If your child’s eczema is associated with an allergy, avoid the triggers, if possible.
Ask your child’s doctor about other things that can trigger a flare-up. These things include overheating or sweating and stress.
What types of medicines are used to treat symptoms?
Your child’s doctor may recommend medicines to help your child feel better and to keep the symptoms of eczema under control. The type of medicine recommended will depend on how severe the eczema is and where it appears on the body. The medicine can be given in 2 ways: applied to the skin (
Medicines that only a doctor (and some other health professionals) can order are called
Before you give your child any medicines, be sure you know how to give them. Talk with your child’s doctor if you have questions or concerns about giving your child medicines.
American Academy of Pediatrics
www.AAP.org and www.HealthyChildren.org
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
American Academy of Dermatology
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
National Eczema Association
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Society for Pediatric Dermatology
Eczema is a chronic skin problem, so it can come and go. It requires ongoing management by you, your child, and your child’s doctor. If your child’s eczema is not improving, talk with your child’s doctor about your concerns.
Listing of resources does not imply an endorsement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP is not responsible for the content of external resources. Information was current at the time of publication. The information contained in this publication should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. .