Eczema: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatments

Eczema: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatments

Are you a new parent worried about detecting eczema in your child? Well, you’re one of many! Let’s breakdown how to diagnose eczema in your child and what to do once you have!

If you think your child has eczema, take a close look at their skin. Look for any of the following:

  • A rash that is red to brownish-gray in color and dry, scaly, or crusted
  • Areas of swelling and bumps that may leak fluid when scratched
  • Itching that is severe enough to interfere with sleep or cause scratches that can lead to infection

Eczema most often appears on the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands, or feet. It can occur anywhere on the body but this varies from person to person. What does it mean if your child is diagnosed with eczema?

If your child has eczema, it means they have a condition that causes their skin to become dry, itchy, red, and cracked. Eczema is a chronic (long-term) condition that affects about 10% of children in the United States. It can occur at any age, but most often starts in infancy or early childhood. There is no cure for eczema, but there are treatments that can help relieve the symptoms. With proper treatment, most children with eczema will experience significant improvement. A small number of children will continue to have intermittent flares throughout their lives. The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it is believed to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with certain genes are more likely to develop eczema than others. In addition, exposure to certain environmental triggers (such as irritants or allergens) can cause symptoms of eczema to flare up. There are several different types of eczema, each with its own set of symptoms:

Atopic dermatitis: This is the most common type of eczema and usually starts in infancy or early childhood. Symptoms include dry skin; itching; redness; and crusting or flaking of the skin. Atopic dermatitis tends to run in families and may be associated with other conditions such as asthma or hay fever.

Contact dermatitis: This type of eczema occurs when the skin comes into contact with an irritant (such as soap) or allergen (such as poison ivy). Symptoms typically appear within minutes or hours after exposure and include itching, redness, swelling, and blistering.

Nummular dermatitis: This form of eczema appears as round coin-shaped patches on the skin that are dry, scaly, and intensely itchy. Nummular dermatitis often develops after a bacterial infection such as strep throat or impetigo.

Seborrheic dermatitis: Seborrheic dermatitis commonly affects infants (cradle cap) and adults (dandruff). It causes scaly, greasy patches on scalp, face or other oily areas such as chest. Although this form if itchiness isn't always present, when it does occur it can be intense.

Stasis dermatitis: Stasis dermatitis generally affects older adults and results from poor blood circulation in leg veins. Symptoms includes painless swelling, redness discoloration of legs below knees along with scaling and crusting around ankles varicose veins may also be visible through the skin’s surface.

There are a variety of treatments available, but finding the right one may require some trial and error. Topical corticosteroids are the most common treatment for eczema. They come in many forms, including creams, ointments, and lotions. Corticosteroids help to reduce inflammation and itching. Most people with eczema will need to use them on a daily basis for several weeks or months. Side effects from topical corticosteroids may include thinning of the skin and stretch marks. In addition to topical treatments, moisturizers are also important in treating eczema. Moisturizers help to keep the skin hydrated and prevent flare-ups. Apply moisturizer after bathing while the skin is still damp. Look for products that are hypoallergenic and free of fragrances, dyes, and other irritants. If over-the-counter treatments don’t improve your symptoms, you may need to see a dermatologist for prescription medication options. These can include oral corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, biologic drugs, or phototherapy (light therapy). With proper treatment, most people with eczema can find relief from their symptoms and live relatively normal lives.

Parenting a newborn is stressful enough, you don’t need to be worrying about whether or not you understand what different diseases might look like or what their symptoms might be. And you can’t be too overcautious! If you think you see something odd or unusual, talk to your healthcare provider.