Understanding your child’s eczema

10% of all children have some form of eczema, the most common form of which is called atopic dermatitis (AD).

The exact cause of eczema is unknown but believed to be because of a combination of genes and environmental triggers. Children who come from families with a history of atopic dermatitis, asthma, or hay fever (known as the atopic triad) are more likely to develop AD.

AD does not usually go away in a few days or weeks. It might get better (or worse) at times, but it usually keeps coming back. Symptoms include skin redness and itching. Child’s skin can become damaged from repeated scratching or rubbing. Small, separate bumps with red lesions (from scratching) are typical of AD.

The key to helping your child stay healthy while living with eczema is to know about the everyday “triggers” in your child’s surroundings, that might make their eczema flare up, or get worse. Some of the most common eczema triggers, and how to control them, include:

Dry skin

 Dry skin can easily become brittle, scaly, rough , which can lead to an eczema flare up. Keep your child’s skin moisturized — especially after bathing, and during the cold, dry, winter months when the indoor heating is on. Dress your child in soft, breathable clothing and avoid itchy fabrics like wool that can irritate their skin.


 Hand and dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, bubble bath and body wash, or surface cleaners and disinfectants. Even some natural liquids, like the juice from fresh fruit, vegetables, or meats can irritate your child’s skin when they touch them. Remove the ones that seem to be a problem.


 Even just knowing they have eczema can be stressful for your child and make their skin flare up. Think about some new, mindful ways to help your child cope with them.

Heat and sweating

 Most children with eczema will become itchy, or experience a “prickly heat” sensation when they sweat, or get too hot. This can happen when your child exercises, wears too many clothes, or when they quickly move from one temperature to another.  Avoid letting your child become overly active when they’re having a flare up. Make sure not to overheat your child’s bedroom where they spend a lot of time. Wearing soft, breathable clothing (in layers) is best. If your child does become overheated, a cool shower or bath can provide relief. Just be sure to moisturize your child’s skin within three minutes after you’ve gently patted him or her dry with a towel.


 Your child’s eczema can become infected with bacteria or viruses that live in the environment. If your child’s eczema “weeps,” has small “pus bumps” or if the lesions on their skin are crusted or look differently than before, your child may have one of these common infections and needs to be treated with medication.


 Most common are seasonal pollen, dust mites and pet dander from cats and dogs.  Keep pets off beds, rugs and furniture. Dust mites collect in bedroom carpets and bedding, so it’s a good idea to use pillow and mattresses covers, remove carpets in your child’s bedroom.

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