The National Eczema Association states that nearly 10 percent of babies and children are affected by eczema. Other studies report that up to 20 percent of children are affected. Eczema is a serious skin irritation thought to emerge from a combination of genetics and external factors such as: temperature extremes, changes in humidity and allergens. Eczema triggers vary among children and can be anything from cigarette smoke to house dust to perfume. Although no cure for eczema outbreaks exist, parents can help lessen the severity of their child’s eczema with these tips.
6 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Eczema
1. Give your child a daily bath in lukewarm water. Limit soap use and avoid Epsom salts, bubble bath solutions and rough wash cloths. Apply a moisturizer immediately after the bath to improve skin hydration.
2. According to the Mayo Clinic, a bleach bath may help reduce eczema bacteria so that children experience less itching and redness and fewer outbreaks. Parents need to pour 1/2 cup of household bleach (not concentrated bleach) to 40 gallons of water, or a bathtub with the water level reaching the drainage holes. Again, always apply moisturizer after the child has bathed.
3. Use only gentle, non-irritating baby shampoos when washing a child’s hair. The fewer ingredients listed on a shampoo bottle’s label, the less irritating it will be to the child’s scalp and skin.
4. Parents should avoid using topical steroid medications for treating their child’s eczema because of side effects and the fact that corticosteroids lose their effectiveness quickly as the immune system develops resistance to the ointment. Topical steroids also reduce skin thickness (atrophy), may interfere with functioning of the immune system and decrease normal blood potassium levels.
5. Eczema is rarely tied to a food allergy so changing your child’s diet may do more harm than good. If you see a noticeable improvement in the child’s eczema after applying a high-quality, hypoallergenic moisturizer every day, a food allergy is not the culprit for eczema outbreaks.
6. Keep a list of your child’s suspected eczema “triggers” and try to avoid them when possible. Common things that exacerbate eczema include synthetic fibers (wool, nylon), hard water, excessive perspiration and exposure to wind and cold.
Psoriasis vs Eczema in Children
At first glance, psoriasis and eczema look similar and cause intense itching, The primary difference between these two skin conditions is the silverish flaking and scaling typical of rough-textured, raised psoriasis “plaques”.
Alternately, eczema resembles severely dry skin but does not exhibit the silver flaking of psoriasis and erupts when triggered by external stressors. Psoriasis is known to have a strong genetic component and often emerges in response to physiological changes happening within the body. Additionally, psoriasis is seen mostly in adults while eczema tends to affect babies and children.
Hypoallergenic Moisturizers for Eczema
Parents should use hypoallergenic moisturizers to alleviate the severity of their child’s eczema. These special moisturizers contain no dyes, parabens, propylene glycol, perfumes, formaldehyde or lanolin to irritate and inflame eczema. They leave your child’s skin feeling softer and smoother while reducing the intense itching that can make your child’s life miserable.
Hypoallergenic moisturizers also improve the ability of the skin’s surface oil to retain moisture and keep skin sufficiently hydrated.