The causes of eczema in children are primarily genetics-related and are congruent with asthma and hay fever, although many children do not end up having asthma if they have eczema. I'm sure most of you know someone, perhaps even yourself or a close relative, who suffers from eczema. Eczema is an itchy skin condition that affects people of all ages, however it's most common in babies and young children. The location of itchy patches vary with a person's age and the severity of eczema depends on the management of flare-ups. Flare-ups are caused by certain triggers that irritate the skin and make the condition worse. Eczema cannot be cured but it can be managed! Here are some common triggers of eczema in children that are easily managed with some diligence!
1. Scented Detergents
I've definitely noticed that one of the triggers of eczema in children, particularly my own son, is harsh, scented laundry detergents. Anything that is labeled as having "fragrance" means loads of chemicals and additives that simply irritate eczema-prone skin. It's best to stick to an unscented, hypoallergenic laundry soap to protect your child's delicate skin from itchy eczema flare-ups. Better yet, make your own soap with borax or baking soda and an organic natural soap, such as Dr. Bronner's Castile soap.
2. Scratchy & Coarse Fabrics
Fabrics such as wool or other coarse material will cause the skin to be irritated and scratchy on its own. With skin that has eczema, scratchy material will make it more inflamed, itchy and uncomfortable. Stick to natural fibers like cotton that are soft, breathable and non-irritating.
3. Perfumed Soaps & Lotions
I know most of us who are parents love those yummy smelling baby lotions and soaps. Unless the soap is scented with mild essential oils like lavender, the fragrances added will only irritate skin that's affected by eczema. You'll also want to use a non-foaming soap, as foaming soaps can be slightly drying. There are plenty of cream-based soaps that are designed for eczema that will calm your child's skin. An oatmeal bath is also an option for severe flare-ups, but talk to your child's pediatrician first. For older children, an anti-itch cream like hydrocortisone will help with relieving itchy symptoms.
4. Dairy Products
While eczema is not caused by an allergic reaction, flare-ups can be related to certain allergens such as food. Dairy products like eggs, milk and cheese can trigger flare-ups and make rashes worse. Completely eliminating a food is generally not a good idea unless there is an actual allergic reaction, so it's best to simply limit dairy products if you suspect dairy to be the culprit.
5. Cold, Dry Air
Cold air in the winter time is dry and irritating. Ever wonder why you're prone to dry, cracked skin in the colder seasons? It's because of the lack of humidity in the air that causes skin to dry out. Pay attention to the season you're in and take greater measures to keep your child's skin highly moisturized to prevent discomfort.
6. Hot Baths Taken Too Often
Water pulls moisture from the skin, especially hot water. While you should never bathe your child in scalding hot water (obvious), even pretty warm water can irritate eczema symptoms. Make sure you're bathing your child (or even yourself!) in warm water, but not super often. One short bath a day is fine but more than that can be irritating. Always make sure to follow up with a good moisturizer as well.
7. Scratching the Area
Of course, one of the "best" ways to irritate eczema patches is by constantly scratching the area. Scratching will only make the rashes worse and can cause blistering and bleeding. Make sure to keep your child's nails short and manage his or her symptoms to prevent the need for scratching altogether.
Eczema is a pesky skin condition that, although basically harmless, it's still frustrating- especially when it's in children and you know they are uncomfortable. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to manage eczema and keep it at bay for the most part. If you or someone you know suffers from eczema, what ways do you know of that best manage the symptoms of this common skin disorder? Share them with us!