Eczema in Kids
Eczema is a common skin condition that is especially prevalent in children. This article explains all you need to know about eczema in kids, its symptoms, causes, and how to relieve it.
What is Eczema in Kids?
Eczema is also known as dermatitis. It is a dermatological condition that causes itching and inflammation of the skin.
Eczema frequently affects infants and young children, often appearing between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. Many children grow out of their eczema by school age. However, others continue to experience symptoms into adulthood.
There are several different types of eczema that can affect kids. Atopic eczema is the most common. It may be accompanied by other conditions, such as asthma and allergies, and tends to run in families.
Symptoms of Eczema in Kids
Eczema can occur in isolated patches or cover much of the body. In babies, it tends to affect the face and scalp. In older children, it tends to affect the hands, inner elbows, and the backs of the knees.
The primary symptoms of eczema are dry and itchy skin. This leads to scratching, which causes the skin to become inflamed and sore. The skin may also become cracked and prone to bleeding or infections.
Signs of infection include:
- Red skin that feels warm to the touch
- Oozing or weeping skin
If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Uncommon Symptoms of Eczema in Kids
Many children experience increased itching at night-time, which can lead to interrupted sleep. This can cause daytime tiredness and other symptoms, such as irritability. However, not all kids with eczema will have problems with sleep.
Another issue that children with eczema may face as they grow older is reduced self-esteem. It is possible that their peers may tease them due to a lack of understanding of the condition. This could potentially lead to feelings of anxiety and isolation. Although most children will not face this situation, it is best to be prepared.
What Causes Eczema in Kids?
Scientists are still trying to determine the exact causes of eczema. However, it is widely accepted that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is involved.
Some experts believe that people with eczema lack a protein that contributes to the skin’s barrier function. This causes the skin to become dry and prone to irritation.
Furthermore, many people find that certain environmental factors or substances trigger their eczema. Some common examples include:
- Food allergies
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Mold spores
- Cold, dry weather
- Excessive heat and sweating
- Certain fabrics (wool, synthetic fabrics, etc.)
Identifying and eliminating these triggers can reduce the frequency of flare-ups and may help to clear a child’s eczema altogether.
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Treating Eczema in Kids
The most crucial element of eczema treatment is keeping the skin well moisturized. This involves applying an emollient cream several times each day and using special products for washing.
Applying wet wraps may be helpful for children with moderate to severe eczema. It involves applying cream, followed by layers of wet and dry bandages. It helps the skin to retain moisture and prevents scratching, especially at night.
Doctors may also prescribe corticosteroid creams to reduce inflammation and itching. However, they can cause side effects when applied for long periods and are ideally for short-term use only.
The Relationship Between Food and Eczema in Kids
An area that has been gaining lots of attention recently is the relationship between eczema and diet. There are certain foods that may make eczema worse and others that could help to relieve it.
Eczema often occurs alongside food allergies. In these cases, eating a trigger food may result in a flare-up. Some of the most common food allergens include:
- Dairy products
- Tree nuts
Some people also react to specific foods if they come into contact with the skin. Some examples include:
- Acidic foods, such as citrus fruit or tomatoes
- Salty food
- Spicy food
Keeping a food and symptom diary can help parents to identify any potential triggers. They may then wish to try an elimination diet, cutting out a suspected trigger for several weeks before reintroducing it slowly.
However, elimination diets should only be undertaken with guidance from a qualified dietician. They will ensure that the child continues to get all the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.
Beneficial Foods for Eczema
There are also some foods that may be beneficial for children with eczema. Helpful diets include the Mediterranean diet and anti-inflammatory diet, which focus on whole foods, healthy fats, and plant-based nutrients.
Some of the most beneficial foods for eczema include:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and may help to improve overall skin health. The best sources are oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. However, it is also possible to find omega-3s in some plant-based sources, such as flax and hemp seeds.
Flavonoids are compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They are found in most fresh fruit and vegetables, making them a vital part of an eczema-friendly diet. Some especially good sources include leafy green vegetables, apples, berries, and cherries.
Probiotic foods help to improve immune health by influencing the population of helpful bacteria that live in the gut. Some common examples include probiotic yogurts and fermented foods like sauerkraut.
Making dietary changes may help to reduce eczema symptoms in some cases. However, it is still essential to pay close attention to skin care, especially keeping the skin well moisturized.
Moreover, any changes should be made according to advice from a qualified dietician to ensure the child’s nutritional needs are being met.