Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common allergic skin disease that usually begins in early childhood. It can be associated with infection of the skin (bacteria, fungus, yeast and virus).
Atopic dermatitis, which causes very dry and sensitive skin, can become worse when exposed to many different allergens such as pet dandruff or dust mites. Other common triggers include soaps, detergents, and heavy scented lotions. Exposure to perfumes and cleaning products can also irritate eczema. For some people, weather changes (especially dry winter weather) worsen eczema. Allergy specialists are specially trained in eczema like other allergic diseases and they help cope with eczema in Istanbul Allergy Center.
What are the symptoms of eczema in children?
Signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis (eczema) vary widely from person to person and include:
- Dry skin
- Itching, which can occur especially at night and can be severe
- Red-brownish gray spots, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, feet ankles, neck, chest, eyelids, elbows and knees, and in the infants, face and scalp
- Small bumps that can leak and hide liquid when itchy
- Thickened, chapped, scaly skin
- Itchy, sensitive, swollen skin
Atopic dermatitis most often occurs in early childhood, and it may continue in adolescence and adulthood. For some people, it flares periodically or may not appear for a while for few years.
What causes eczema in children?
Healthy skin helps to retain moisture and protects you from bacteria, irritants and allergens. Eczema is related to a gene variation that affects the skin’s ability to provide this protection. This causes the skin get affected by environmental factors, irritants and allergens. In some children, food allergies can cause eczema.
How is eczema diagnosed in children?
Allergy specialists receive special training to treat skin conditions, such as eczema, which is often related to an allergic response. Questions can be asked, used to help in diagnosis, about the types of soaps, detergent and skin care products, and the risks of exposure to other allergens that can make eczema worse. The training of an allergist helps him develop a treatment plan for the patient’s personal condition. The aim will be to lead a normal and symptom-free life as much as possible. Allergists can identify possible allergic triggers for eczema and provide treatment recommendations to help get rid of symptoms.
Food allergies are also observed in 33 to 63 percent of young children with moderate to severe eczema. In cases where eczema continues after treatment in children, it is recommended children under 5 years of age with moderate to severe eczema should be evaluated in terms of milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat and soy allergies.
What are the types of eczema in children?
Seborrheic Eczema: Seborrheic dermatitis is often found in oily areas of the body, such as the scalp, face, and chest. It can also be seen as stubborn, itchy scurf on the scalp. It is known as a dandruff for babies. Common signs and symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis:
- Yellowish scales or scaling on the scalp, ears, face, or other parts of the body
- Skin redness
Asteatotic Eczema: Asteatotic dermatitis is characterized by itchy, dry, cracking and splitting skin areas and irregular scaling areas. It is most common in the lower legs of older people, but can also be seen in the hands and trunk.
Contact Eczema: Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by direct contact with substances called allergens. It usually affects only the area that comes into contact with the allergen. Common allergens include imitation jewelry, perfumes, cosmetics, hair dyes and poison ivy. Common signs and symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis:
- The red rash or bump
- Blisters, drain fluid and crusting
- Itching and swelling
Stasis Dermatitis: Stasis dermatitis can be also named as gravitational dermatitis, venous eczema, and venous stasis dermatitis. It usually occurs when there is a problem with circulation in the lower legs, veins. These problematic vessels cause pressure to pile up as blood tries to flow upward in the body and heart. This pressure leaks fluid from the veins and into the skin. The main symptoms of stasis dermatitis (venous eczema, gravitational dermatitis) are:
- Swelling of the ankles that disappear while sleeping but return during the day
- Pale skin
- Flaking and dryness
- Varicose veins
- Leg pain
Stress and Eczema: If you find that your eczema flares just before a big presentation or during the exam period, this event is not coincidental. Experts say that, for years, stress can worsen the condition of the skin. When you’re nervous, your body tries to protect your skin by increasing inflammation there. If there is an existing eczema, this makes the symptoms worse. The solution is to try to manage the stress.
Eczema Treatment in Children
The real purpose of treatment is the improvement in quality of life. It is important that the person can participate in school, work, social and family activities, be satisfied with the appearance of the skin, and the patient’s feeling healthy. There should be no social stigma associated with this situation. Eczema treatments have very few side effects or no side effects. In addition to treatment, sleep should be restful and not uncomfortable due to the need to scratch the skin.
Avoiding Possible Triggers
Irritant substances: Irritant substances such as chemicals, soaps, detergents, fragrances, some fabrics, and smoke can cause further skin damage in patients with eczema.
Things to do to reduce irritating exposures are:
- Comfortable clothes should be preferred,
- New clothes must be washed before wearing them,
- Nails should be kept short and straight to prevent additional damage from scratching.
- Broad spectrum ultraviolet (UV) protective sunscreen should be used (UV-A and UV-B with a SPF of 15 or higher).
- Bathing should be done immediately after swimming to reduce and eliminate exposure to various chemicals in swimming pools and beaches.
Atopic dermatitis can be stubborn. It may be necessary to try several treatments over the months or years to take it under control. Even if the treatment is successful, signs and symptoms may recur. It is important to diagnose the condition early so that treatment can be initiated. If regular moistening and other personal care steps don’t help, doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Creams that control itching and help repair the skin.
- Necessary medicines to fight infection.
- Oral medications that control inflammation.
What are eczema remedies?
Moisturizing the skin is an important component for eczema care. After taking bath or shower, it is good to dry the skin slightly (excess water droplets), then apply a moisturizer to wet skin to “lock” the water.
Topical steroids are anti-inflammatory drugs used in rash areas (red and inflamed areas of the skin, not only in dry areas). Steroid drugs that used for eczema are different from other types of steroids. Topical steroids are safe when used properly as recommended by your doctor. One topical steroid may be stronger (more effective) than the other, and therefore can heal the rash more effectively than a weaker topical steroid.
Other Topical Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
If topical steroids seem not effective, other topical anti-inflammatory drugs -topical immunomodulators- may be used as well. If steroids fail, topical immunomodulators are usually second-line factors. Since they are not steroids, they do not thin the skin, so these drugs can be used on the eyelid and other facial areas.
Wet Wrap Therapy
Wet wrap treatment is often used for people with severe eczema and who are difficult to manage. In this treatment, the skin is soaked in warm water for about 15-20 minutes and then dried gently. Topical medications (generally steroids or other anti-inflammatory drugs as described) placed in areas of the skin eruption. This is followed by a dry dressing material such as an elastic bandage, pajamas or stockings placed on the wet dressing.
Antihistamines do not stop the eczema itching because it is not triggered by histamine. Sedative antihistamines are sometimes used to promote much-needed sleep at night. However, there are potential side effects such as increased sleepiness or sedation during the day increases dryness and difficulty urinating. Topical antihistamines should not be used as they can worsen the rash.
In summary, eczema can usually be managed regardless of age factor. Careful evaluation and follow-up together with an expert allergist / immunologist can lead to a very high quality of life and the person himself can actively participate in all activities.
Is eczema contagious in children?
Eczema is not contagious. Although the exact cause of eczema is unknown, researchers state that eczema is caused by a combination of genes and environmental triggers.