Is your child experiencing the irritated, itchy, red skin associated with eczema? They’re not alone. As one of the most common skin conditions kids get, eczema affects over 9 million children in the United States.
Eczema isn’t contagious, but that doesn’t mean it’s harmless. The patches of dry, flaky skin can appear on many parts of the body, from the scalp to the soles of the feet. And while there’s not a cure, treatments do exist.
At Manhattan Dermatology with offices in Murray Hill and Midtown East in New York City, our board-certified dermatologists help children and their parents manage eczema. We’re also committed to helping parents learn ways to help their children cope with this frustrating skin disease.
Here’s a look at our top tips for what to do if your child has eczema and how to prevent flare-ups when possible.
Work with a dermatologist
There’s no cure for eczema, but useful treatments can help your child’s skin. At Manhattan Dermatology, we customize eczema treatment based on the type of eczema your child has and any symptoms they experience. This may include one or more of the following:
- Topical steroids to control inflammation
- Topical tar and oral antihistamines to manage itchiness
- Antibiotics to address any bacteria
- Immunotherapy to boost their immune system (in children over 2 years)
If your child’s eczema doesn’t respond to lifestyle changes and medical treatment, we may recommend cyclosporine.
Understand your child’s eczema triggers
Different types of eczema exist. But no matter which type your child has, different things in their internal or external environments can make it flare and trigger worsening eczema.
Eczema triggers are different for everyone, but there are some common triggers many people share:
- Dry air (lack of humidity)
- Certain foods
- Certain materials
- Tags in clothing
- Dyes or chemical washes
- Fragrance and coloring
- Scented and foaming soaps
- Hot water
- Sweaty, hot skin
- Seasonal and environmental allergies
- Certain foods (peanuts, milk, soy, wheat, fish, and eggs most commonly)
- Cigarette smoke
- Baby and personal care wipes
Drool and saliva can also cause eczema in babies and very young children, and getting a skin infection can cause an eczema flare-up, too.
Some toys, like stuffed animals, can irritate the skin depending on the material from which they’re made and whether they attract dust.
To help manage your child’s eczema, keep track of their triggers. Watch for changes as they grow because hormonal changes can also trigger eczema or cause it to change.
Manage eczema away from home
You can’t be with your child all the time, but eczema flare-ups can take place almost anywhere. Help manage your child’s eczema away from home by taking a few simple steps:
Talk to your child’s teachers
Help prevent eczema before it starts by talking to your child’s teachers. Your child should be seated away from any heating vents or space heaters, and because dry skin is enemy No. 1 for eczema, get permission for your child to apply moisturizer as needed.
Eczema flare-ups can make it difficult for about 30% of children with eczema to sleep or concentrate. If this happens to your child, let their teachers know so they can get more time for work or get extra help.
Work with their coaches and PE teachers
Since sweating skin and getting overheated can trigger eczema flare-ups, talk to your child’s coach or physical education teacher about their condition. Your child can still play sports or engage in physical activity, but they may need to take some precautions, such as:
- Drinking extra cool water
- Wearing loose-fitting clothes made of natural fibers
- Removing any tags and covering itchy seams
- Rinsing off or showering right away
If your child swims, be sure their skin is well moisturized before getting in the water. You can use petroleum jelly to create a good barrier against harsh pool chemicals. And be sure your child has permission to rinse immediately and wash thoroughly as soon as possible after leaving the pool.
Help your child practice stress management
Stress is a common eczema trigger. Today’s kids face many challenges, and a skin condition like eczema can make things even more difficult. As such, help your child practice healthy stress management, like:
- Regular exercise
- Meditation for 10 minutes or longer every day
- Seeking support from friends and family
- Deep breathing techniques
- Practicing healthy sleep habits
If your child has eczema, get help by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone at Manhattan Dermatology in the Murray Hill or Midtown East sections of Manhattan, New York City.