ECZEMA (Atopic Dermatitis; Infantile Eczema; Neurodermatitis)
Eczema is a chronic allergic skin disorder of childhood. The skin--especially of the scalp, face, and back of the neck -- and skin creases of the elbows and knees are involved. Eczema may begin between 1 month and 1 year. It usually subsides somewhat by age 3, but it may flare again at ages 10 to 12 and last through puberty.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSItching (sometimes severe).
Small blisters with oozing.
Thickening and scaling from chronic inflammation.
Skin affected by eczema has the following characteristics:
CAUSESFoods, such as eggs, wheat, milk, or seafood.
Skin lotions and ointments.
An allergic reaction to a wide variety of things, including:
Medical history of other allergic conditions in your child, such as hay fever, asthma, or sensitivity to certain drugs.
Clothing made of synthetic fabric, which traps perspiration.
Weather extremes, including humidity, severe cold, and severe heat (especially with increased sweating).
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCENo specific preventive measures.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory studies, such as blood and skin tests to identify your child's allergies.
Bacterial infections caused by injury to the child's skin.
Life-threatening infection from a smallpox vaccination--not usually given to children anymore since since smallpox has virtually been eradicated.
Cataracts (for unknown reason).
PROBABLE OUTCOMEVariable. Some children outgrow eczema. Others are resistant to treatment, and eczema may persist through puberty. However, symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment.
Skin irritation from any other cause can trigger a flare-up or aggravate existing eczema.
Provide loose cotton clothing to help absorb your child's perspiration.
Minimize stress in the child's life whenever possible.
Don't allow the child to have a smallpox vaccination or to be exposed to someone who has recently had one.
Keep the child's fingernails short and put soft gloves on at night to minimize scratching. Scratching worsens eczema.
Bathe the child less frequently to avoid excessive skin dryness. Soap and water may trigger flare-ups. When bathing, use special non-fat soaps and tepid water. Use no soap on inflamed areas.
Lubricate the child's skin after bathing.
Protect the child from extreme temperature changes.
Avoid anything that has previously worsened the condition.
MEDICATIONOintments containing coal tar or cortisone drugs to decrease inflammation. These may help your child more if used at night under a lightly applied plastic wrap. Ask your doctor.
Antihistamines to decrease itching.
Antibiotics for complicating infections, if they occur.
Sedatives or tranquilizers to calm the child.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe:
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet. Eliminate any foods known to cause flare-ups of your child's eczema.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes. This condition is not contagious to others.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of eczema.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects. Excessive use of cortisone drugs is dangerous, and antihistamines frequently cause drowsiness.