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From itchy skin to red rashes, atopic dermatitis affects between 10 to 20 percent of all children, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). This common childhood skin condition tends to appear before children reach the age of five, and for some, it disappears by age 10. About 60 percent of kids never grow out of it and struggle with flare-ups for life.
The condition really affects quality of life for both parent and child. Itchy and irritable skin makes simple actions like dressing and sleeping painful. School-aged children with atopic dermatitis are also at greater risk for developing psychological difficulties and self-consciousness, affecting both academic and social development.
As a parent, arming yourself with knowledge about this skin problem can help your child battle the disease. Proper treatment can make it manageable.
Eczema is a skin disease that manifests in various forms. The most common form affecting children is atopic dermatitis. A genetic history of allergies, asthma or hay fever can make children more prone to eczema.
Although medical experts are not certain about the cause of condition, it is suspected the disease is a result of the immune system overreacting to irritants. Common irritants that trigger eczema flare-ups include:
• Allergies to foods, pet dander or environment
• Colds or other infections
• Contact with abrasive materials
If a child develops eczema, one of their most noticeable symptoms will be itchiness. Sometimes itchiness begins even before rashes are formed. Red rashes most commonly appear on the backs of the knees or elbows or on the face. Hand rashes can also occur on occasion.
The appearance of eczema varies by person. One child may develop raised bumps and pimples that burst and ooze. Another child may have thickening skin that looks dry and cracked. Most people with eczema notice inflammation.
First, have your child’s diagnosis confirmed by a doctor. A doctor can typically diagnose the skin disease by asking questions and examining the rash. Your doctor may make recommendations for home treatment such as a bleach bath or, if the eczema is severe, offer prescription medications. They may ask you to regularly follow up when your child has flare-ups since the skin condition can worsen and become infected.
Once eczema is confirmed, you can take several steps to help relieve your child’s symptoms.
Managing childhood eczema is often possible through simple home remedies and care strategies — like dressing your child in softer clothing and soothing the skin through topical treatment.
A common symptom of eczema is dry skin. Moisturizing with baby lotion or a lotion designed for small children can relieve itchiness and help heal rashes. Aquaphor Healing Ointment works great as daily moisturizer and doubles as diaper rash cream. Humidifiers can also provide a moist environment for the skin.
Doctors often recommended diluted bleach baths for treatment of eczema. As another option, many doctors recommend CLn BodyWash. It bottles up the most important ingredient of a bleach bath, sodium hypochlorite, into a gentle, clinically proven and non-drying cleanser. It's a safe alternative for cleaning red, itchy, dry or flaky skin while also being free of steroids, antibiotics, parabens, and triclosan.
Sometimes eczema has an obvious trigger — your child develops a rash after petting a dog or after wearing a particular sweater. Identify triggers and then avoid them.
Clothing comes in contact with your child’s skin the most, so stick to organic cotton material. Other materials, even if they seem soft, can be irritating to the skin. Choose cotton for bedding, towels and other fabrics your child touches regularly.
Coconut oil can be soothing if applied to directly to skin affected by eczema. This healthy ingredient contributes to skin care overall because its proteins promote cellular health and tissue repair. Coconut oil may even prevent or reduce some eczema flare-ups.
Overheating and sweating can exacerbate or perpetuate eczema flare-ups. Keep your child cool by dressing them in layers. Keep them away from radiators and sunny windows at school, and make sure they take lukewarm baths. You can also use cool washcloths to soothe itchy rashes.
Eczema is manageable with some knowledge and natural remedies. As a parent, you can help your infant or child identify symptoms and ways to address them.
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