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Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition, which occurs when the skin barrier is not as efficient as it should be. It results in dry and inflamed skin with various degrees of thickness. In severe cases, the skin can crack or even bleed. This condition is described as a red and itchy rash on the skin, associated with swelling. It is not contagious, and it is not harmful in most cases – unless it becomes infected. Although there isn’t a clear-cut cause for eczema, genetics may play a role in this condition in some cases. Eczema results from an allergic response to a trigger such as food, dust, chemicals, or stress. It tends to flare up now and then and usually decreases with age.
Common signs of eczema
1) Dry Skin: In normal conditions, the upper layer of our skin contains substances that keep our skin from being too dry or too wet. In the case of eczema, these protective layers are inadequate, so the sensitive underlying layers become exposed to irritants or allergens, leading to an inflammation reaction. Dry skin quickly becomes irritated and itchy.
2) Itchiness: Eczema is also known as dermatitis, which is Greek for skin inflammation. This condition leads to redness and itchiness, where scratching can lead to bleeding and further itching. The level and duration of itchiness would vary from person to person – sometimes it’s mild, and others could experience severe itching all over their body. Scratching leads to thickening of the skin, which leads to more itching as well as possible infection.
3) Cracked Skin: When the surface layer (epidermis) becomes dry due to an inflammatory reaction, it might crack or even bleed. Sometimes you might notice dead white or yellow skin, which is referred to as fibrinous exudate.
4) Intense Moisture: There can be a visible increase in the level and frequency of sweating, and it might occur after the least amount of physical activity or perspiration. It is sometimes combined with redness and mild swelling on the face around the eyes and nose area.
5) Swelling: In some cases, visible swelling can appear – this condition could last for several minutes or even hours following exposure to an allergen such as heat, cold, sweat, etc. Unlike other conditions that involve fluid accumulation in tissues (lymphedema), only parts of the body exposed to irritants will swell up. The swelling usually occurs in areas such as the face, lids, lips, and hands.
6) Redness: A person might also experience redness in areas where there is no swelling. The most common areas are the face around the nose and eyes, which appear pale or white compared to other facial skin colours.
7) Dry Lips: Symptoms of eczema can occur on dry or chapped lips for young children though this condition tends to go away with age. This is related to both dry skin and food sensitivities/allergies caused by inhalation.
8) Bumps on Lips & Cheeks: For infants up to 6 months old, they may develop bumps around the mouth area due to milk allergies. The bumps are similar to those caused by cold sores and occur mainly near the mouth and sometimes on the chin.
9) Eye Irritation: Eyes could become irritated and watery due to intense light or wind exposure. Eczema around the eye area is also common, mainly when itching and inflammation in other areas.
10) Lesions: In cases where bacterial infections occur, it may lead to raised lesions that cause intense itchiness or burning sensations. These lesions might be red or pinkish with visible edges (edematous). It occurs mainly on the knees, hands, ankles, and feet through any body part that can be affected, including eyelids and face.
11) Red, Rough or Dry Lips: Symptoms of eczema can occur on dry or chapped lips for young children though this condition tends to go away with age. This is related to both dry skin and food sensitivities/allergies caused by inhalation. The appearance of the lower lip could be affected as well – it might become redder than usual or show fine lines around the mouth area (perioral dermatitis).
12) Redness and inflammation: The hallmark symptoms of eczema are redness and inflammation (swelling), often found on the cheeks, forehead, arms, and legs – basically areas more exposed to touch or friction. But any area can be affected by this problem if left untreated for too long (i..e back, scalp, etc.)
13) Scaling and Cracking: The skin becomes scaly, rough, dry, and cracked. This happens if the inflammation of the skin gets out of control.
14) Dark patches: Like adults, eczema also scars the skin slowly, and dark patches gradually appear once the child is an adult. It often results from scratching that can cause permanent damage to the affected areas.
15) Atopic dermatitis: In case your baby shows signs of allergic reactions such as asthma, hay fever, food allergies, etc… you might be looking at a common type of eczema called atopic dermatitis. It’s not contagious, but it does influence other allergies in children.
16) Hives: Hives on the bottom protrude within a few minutes after contact with water (commonly seen in kids younger than two years), scaly or thickened skin around the genital area, redness around eyelids, lips, or nose, diaper rash. Severe itching in the genital area can also cause pain while peeing.
17) Heat rash: Eczema during the summer months will be less intense, but heat rashes are likely to develop when sweat glands are blocked, causing skin eruptions. The usual places are under the breasts of women and between thighs in both sexes.
18) Pimples on legs: This is often related to the use of fabric softeners, soaps with solid perfumes, and tight clothing. It can also be linked to intense sweating in the feet caused by stress or an illness.
19) Pustules: Similar to acne, pustules are red bumps that appear around the groin area (between thighs), genitals, armpits, and neck if there’s severe heat rash or irritation caused by other factors such as allergic reactions. This type of rash tends to itch intensely at times when it begins supporting (forming pus).
20) Thickened skin patches: The thicker the skin patch appears – especially between fingers, palms, and toes – the higher are chances of the child having eczema. The thickened patches tend to crack or bleed, causing intense pain and discomfort throughout the day.
These are the most common signs of eczema I’ve noticed over the years. There are other symptoms, such as lethargy or lack of appetite, but these depend on the severity and type of the condition, so it’s really important to discuss any concerns with your skin doctor.
How to manage eczema?
Eczema treatment is based on the severity of the child’s symptoms. Mild cases are treated with moisturizers, while prescription topical creams or medicines are applied for more complicated situations. Your doctor might recommend a combination of treatments that will depend on your kid’s condition, age, and overall health.
- Moisturize daily (without perfumes). Use non-irritating products like Cetaphil, Vanicream, or Aveeno if possible since these are hypoallergenic and won’t irritate the skin further. Products containing oatmeal are also good choices because they act as an anti-inflammatory agent.
- Stay away from harsh soaps at all costs! Even baby soaps should be used with caution because some of them contain fragrances that can irritate delicate skin. Instead, use unperfumed moisturizing cleansers twice a day followed by moisturizing cream right after bathing while skin is still damp.
- Stop using fabric softeners on child’s clothes. These chemical products are often the cause of skin irritation because they contain perfumes that irritate your baby’s skin even more.
- Apply moisturizing cream or ointment right after bath while skin is still damp to lock up the moisture in the body.
- Use hypoallergenic, non-perfumed laundry detergents for your kid’s bedsheets, towels, and clothing at all times. Don’t forget to do a patch test before using new soaps and detergents for the first time.
- Keep nails short and clean at all times because scratching can lead to infection and scars, which will take longer to heal during eczema outbreaks.
- Avoid hot or cold weather during flare-ups because these can cause further irritation. Please keep yourself away from humid places, steam rooms, and saunas, at least for a while, since they are likely to make eczema worse.
- Use wet wraps in case of very itchy skin (only after the doctor’s confirmation). They reduce the need to scratch excessively, thus protecting the skin against infection and allowing faster healing time. Wet wraps will be applied right after bathing when skin is still damp by using gauze that has been soaked in lukewarm water with baking soda added to it, followed by gentle patting dry before applying moisturizing cream on top. This process should be repeated several times until your baby feels better.
- Use antihistamines to reduce itching and inflammation in case of severe eczema outbreaks (e.g., during hot weather or when other triggers such as contact with something your child is allergic to). You can use either oral or topical medication (recommended for babies under six months), so you might need to consult the doctor before buying anything over-the-counter.
- Wear loose clothing if possible, but avoid tight elastic bands on the waist, wrists, and ankles at night. They will only make it more difficult for your baby to sleep peacefully by increasing itchiness throughout the day; in turn, it reduces the stress the quality of life overall.
- Consult a dermatologist if things get terrible!
- Avoid medications that contain steroids or immunosuppressants (e.g., Elidel, Protopic), especially if your baby is under two years of age because they can cause harm to health in the long run.
- Keep fingernails short and clean at all times! Scratching can lead to infection and scars, which will take longer to heal during eczema outbreaks
- Don’t have any house plants in your kid’s bedroom! House plants are known triggers for allergies, so they should be avoided
- Wash hands thoroughly after touching pets or stuffed animals, particularly if you suspect that pet dander might trigger an allergic reaction. However, it is still important to expose your child to furry friends because they have improved their quality of life by providing unconditional love and reducing stress levels.
- Use a humidifier in dry months to moisten the air around your baby’s face because this can help soothe itchy skin and protect against infections (e.g., viruses, bacteria).
- Have all pets vaccinated for rabies and other infectious diseases. Keep them away from the baby, especially during eczema outbreaks, because this can irritate even if there isn’t any direct contact.
- Do not take baths for any longer than 10 min twice per day, or at least once per day in case of dehydrated skin. All excess soap residue must be removed before getting out of the tub to prevent flare-ups. Warm water is recommended, so you might need to lower the temperature if it feels too hot for your little one. Ask the doctor about safe water temperatures.
- Use lukewarm water while bathing instead of hot or cold water because this can cause further irritation.
- Homeopathy at its best. Homeopathic treatment for eczema includes topical remedies for itching, oral pills to build resistance to allergens, and homeopathic ointments such as “Calendula Cream” (made from the marigold flower), which you can apply on affected areas after each bath. Homeopathic treatment for eczema is one of the best treatment options for infants and babies under two years of age. The results are often faster and better than those produced by any other treatment options currently available. Homeopathic treatment treats the root cause of eczema, not just the symptoms. This treatment option is 100% safe for babies and infants under two years of age because it doesn’t cause any long-term side effects. You can use this treatment daily without worrying about your little one’s health in the future!
Keep in mind that homeopathy is an ideal treatment for eczema children over six months. Still, you should only consider using it if a licensed homeopathic doctor or practitioner has prescribed you. You can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy now!