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Child skin care: Management of eczema

Eczema is a prevalent and frustrating skin condition for both parents and children. Since there is still no cure, it can be hard to treat and many parents are often confused on how to treat it properly. Even though the rash can be controlled and even subside with proper treatment, it has the tendency to recur at times.

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How eczema is diagnosed

Eczema is diagnosed based on the characteristics of the itchy rash in areas such as the cheeks, forehead, arms and legs among infants and the creases of the knees, elbows and ankles among older children.

The skin condition is oftentimes mistaken as other forms of itchy rashes including heat rash, contact dermatitis, psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. The timing when the rash started, location of the rash and the pattern during flare-ups can be used by the doctor to determine if he/she has eczema or a different skin condition.

Prevention of flare-ups

Eczema
Eczema is diagnosed based on the characteristics of the itchy rash in areas such as the cheeks, forehead, arms and legs among infants and the creases of the knees, elbows and ankles among older children.

The ideal way to prevent eczema flare-ups is to avoid the known triggers such as dust mites, strong soaps, food allergies, bubble baths, wool or polyester clothing, being overheated and sweating. Additionally, keeping the skin properly moisturized is also beneficial as well.

Since it can be difficult to pinpoint and avoid the triggers, moisturizers are useful in avoiding the flare-ups. One way to avoid dry skin is to provide the child with a daily bath using lukewarm water and a mild, moisturizing soap. After the bath, apply a moisturizer as soon as possible to lock in the moisture into his/her skin.

Take note that a greasy ointment is likely to work best. When selecting a moisturizer, you can try several and see what works best and make sure to reapply the moisturizer at least 2-3 times throughout the day.

Treatment

During flare-ups of eczema, the usual treatment involves topical steroids and the latest non-steroidal medications. Always bear in mind that some of these should not be used on children below 2 years old or used for an extended period of time.

Topical steroids

These range from over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams that are relatively mild and can be used on the face or the stronger variants that requires a prescription from a doctor.

Generally, the strong variants should not be given to children. The intermediate steroids are commonly given. Remember that these can still cause side effects including stretch marks and thinning of the skin if used extensively in the same area.

Antihistamines

These medications are often part of the treatment regimen for eczema. They are useful if the itchiness disrupts with sleep, especially the sedative variants. The application of a cold compress is also effective in controlling the urge to scratch once itchiness arises.

Immunodulators

These are steroid-free topical medications that can be used to treat eczema in children. They are used 2 times in a day among children over 2 years old. The medication can be applied on all areas where the rash is present including the face. Additionally, they also prevent flare-ups if they are used at the initial sign of itchiness or a rash.

Other treatment measures that can be used to manage severe cases of eczema include the application of wet dressings, ultraviolet light therapy, oral steroids and immunosuppressive drugs.

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