Eczema is a general term to describe a number of inflammatory skin conditions. Aside from atopic dermatitis, other types of eczema that commonly affect children include contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema (foot-and-hand eczema), and seborrheic dermatitis, or scalp eczema (known as cradle cap in infants).
- It is most likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Eczema is not contagious.
- Infants are more likely to develop eczema if family members have a history of eczema, hay fever, or asthma.
- It results from an immune-system dysfunction that affects the skin barrier and its ability to hold in moisture.
- The outdoor environment - specifically air pollutants and meteorological conditions may also have an impact on eczema risk in children. One study concluded that high levels of carbon monoxide, ammonia, formaldehyde, lead, particulate matter, and ozone levels may all affect the development of infantile eczema.
- Children have a higher risk of developing eczema if their mothers experienced high-stress situations during pregnancy.
The eczema can appear on other parts of the body as well, including the diaper area.
When the infant begins to crawl, usually between 6 and 12 months, eczema will typically affect the elbows and knees, which rub on the ground. The eczema rash can become infected, resulting in a yellowish crust or tiny bumps of pus.
When the child is around age 2, eczema may begin to appear on the insides of the elbows and behind the knees, as well as on the wrists, ankles, and hands. It may also appear around the mouth and eyelids.
This eczema tends to be drier, scalier, and thicker.
Triggers of eczema symptoms include:
- Allergenic foods (such as peanuts, soy, and eggs).
- Clothing made of wool or synthetic fibers.
- Cigarette smoke.
- Scented products, such as laundry detergents, perfume, and air fresheners, especially ones that contain alcohol.
- Excessive heat or dryness.
- Dry winter air with little moisture.
- Skin infections.
- Additionally, drool can irritate a baby’s cheeks, chin, and neck.
- Pollen grains, dust.
- Keep your baby cool to avoid excessive sweating, possibly by using cool compresses (a wet, cool washcloth), especially on irritated areas.
- Consider using mittens on your small child’s hands if you need to leave the child alone for a short period of time, such as when you’re using the bathroom. This will help prevent the child from scratching their skin when you are out of sight.
- Avoid giving your baby long hot baths (use cool or lukewarm water instead) or rubbing your baby’s skin too much, especially with rough washcloths, loofahs, or towels.
- Consider twice-weekly diluted-bleach baths, which can help babies older than three months whose eczema gets infected frequently; discuss with your doctor.
- Moisturise your baby’s skin frequently with fragrance- and dye-free ointments, creams, and lotions, especially right after a bath.
- Dress your baby in soft cotton clothing that “breathes.”
- Avoid using scented products.
- Keep your baby’s fingernails short to prevent scratching, which can damage the skin and lead to further inflammation and infection.
- Remove irritants and known allergens from the household as much as possible.
- Topical corticosteroids.
- Antibiotic, antiviral, or antifungal drugs for skin infections.
- Oral medication that suppresses the immune system.