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Eczema is a dry, itchy skin condition that affects 15-20% of children during their early years, normally appearing before their 2nd birthday. Most will grow out of it by the time they reach the teenage years. Eczema cannot be cured, but it can be controlled and eased with various treatments.
What causes it?
Scientists really don't know for sure but it seems to run in families. The different types of eczema are:-
- Atopic Eczema: This means a tendency to develop conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, asthma and hayfever. In extreme cases the dry patches can crack and ooze blood or fluid. Most children tend to be affected around the knee, elbow, neck and face areas.
- Contact Eczema: Some children get flare-ups at times when their eczema is worse. This can be triggered by chemicals that come in close contact with the skin: washing powders, fabric softeners, bubble baht or shampoos. This is referred to as Contact Eczema. Some children with Atopic Eczema can also have Contact eczema and the two can exist together.
- Allergic Eczema: This refers to localised flaring up of eczema due to an allergic reaction, for example because of the nickel in jewellery or watches.
Eczema in children can be very distressing as they find it incredibly hard not to scratch and therefore infect the dry areas.
What Can Be Done?
- If your child has a Mild form of Eczema - Use an emollient lotion, cream and if necessary a course of steroid cream. Use bath emollient and avoid using perfumed products on your child.
- If they have a Severe form- Steroid creams may be prescribed by your doctor and they may be referred to a specialist dermatologist for other treatments or drugs.
Dry bandages may also be used, and a technique known as wet wrapping. This is where bandages are soaked in steroid cream and then placed on the affected areas with a dry bandage wrapped on top. This is done to encourage the emollient to soak into the skin.
Homeopathy and complementary medicines can be used as indeed can Chinese herbs. These treatments are not necessarily proved as being successful but may provide comfort.