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Eczema

What you see and feel depends on the type of eczema you have. You may have just a few of the signs and symptoms listed below, or you may have many.

 

What is Eczema?

Eczema is a common skin disease in children that usually occurs during their first year of life. If a child gets eczema during this time, dry and scaly patches appear on the skin. These patches often appear on the scalp, forehead, and face. These patches are very common on the cheeks. No matter where it appears, eczema is often very itchy. Infants may rub their skin against bedding or carpeting to relieve the itch. In children of all ages, the itch can be so intense that a child cannot sleep. Scratching can lead to a skin infection.

Who gets Eczema?

Around the world, between 10% and 20% of children suffer from eczema. About 1% to 3% of adults have it. Most people (90%) get eczema before their 5th birthday and it rarely starts in adulthood. Eczema is much more common today than it was 30 years ago and dermatologists are not sure why. There are some situations that tend to increase a child’s risk of getting eczema and they are as follows:

  • Family history of eczema, asthma, or hay fever: A family history of any of these diseases remains the strongest risk factor. If one or both parents suffer from any of these conditions, the child is much more likely to get eczema. Some children develop all 3 diseases. Asthma and hay fever usually appear before the age of 30. People often have asthma and hay fever for life.
  • Where child lives: Living in a developed country, city (especially one with higher levels of pollution), or a cold climate seems to increase the risk.
  • Gender: Females are slightly more likely than males to get eczema.
  • Mother’s age when child is born: When the mother gives birth to the child later in her childbearing years, a child is more likely to get eczema.
  • Social class:> Eczema seems more common in higher social classes

What causes atopic dermatitis?

Researchers are still studying what causes AD. Through their studies, they have learned that AD:

  • Is not contagious: There is no need to worry about catching it or giving it to someone.
  • Runs in families: People who get AD usually have family members who have AD, asthma, or hay fever. This means that genes play a role in causing AD.
    - Children are more likely to develop AD if one or both parents have AD, asthma, or hay fever.
    - About half (50%) of the people with severe AD (covers a large area of the body or is very troublesome) will get asthma and about one-third (66%) will get hay fever.

Can certain foods cause atopic dermatitis?

Foods do not cause AD. But some studies suggest that food allergies can make AD worse. Children who have AD often have food allergies to these foods — milk and foods that contain milk (e.g., yogurt and cheese), nuts, and shellfish. Before you stop feeding your child any foods, talk about this with your child’s dermatologist. Children need certain foods to grow and develop normally. Researchers continue to study what causes this complex disease. They believe that many things interact to cause AD. These things include our genes, where we live, and the way our immune system works.

Because atopic dermatitis can be long lasting, it is important to learn how to take care of the skin. Treatment and good skin care can alleviate much of the discomfort.

Bathing tips:

  • Bathe your child in warm — not hot — water.
  • Limit your child’s time in the bath to 5 or 10 minutes.
  • Use cleanser only when needed and make sure the cleanser is mild and fragrance-free. Do not use bubble bath.
    - If your child’s eczema is frequently infected, twice-weekly bleach baths may be beneficial. Discuss this option with your child’s dermatologist.
  • After bathing, gently pat your child’s skin partially dry.
  • If your child has medicine that you apply to the skin, apply medicine when your child’s skin is almost dry and use the medicine as directed.
  • Apply moisturizer on top of the medicine and to the rest of your child’s skin.

Tips for choosing a moisturizer:

  • When selecting a moisturizer, consider choosing a thick cream or ointment.
  • Some children do better with fragrance-free products, so consider petroleum jelly — an inexpensive, fragrance-free product that works well for many children.
  • When selecting a product, “trial and error” sampling of different types may help to identify the best moisturizer for your child.

Skin care tips:

  • For best results, apply moisturizer at least twice a day. This prevents dryness and cracking. It also can decrease the need for eczema medications.
  • If your child has severe itching and scratching, ask your child’s dermatologist about wet wrap therapy. This can reduce swelling and lessen the desire to scratch.
  • Keep your child’s fingernails short and smooth. This decreases the likelihood that scratching will puncture the skin. Putting cotton gloves on your child’s hands at night may help prevent scratching during sleep.
  • Keep temperature and humidity levels comfortable. Avoid situations in which the air is extremely dry, or where your child may sweat and overheat. This is the most common trigger of the itch/scratch cycle.

Clothes-washing tips:

  • Using a laundry detergent made for sensitive skin may be beneficial. Scented fabric softener or dryer sheets may contribute to irritation.
  • Only use the recommended amount of detergent.
  • Use enough water for adequate rinsing.
  • Buy clothes without tags because tags can rub against the skin, causing irritation.
  • Wash your child’s new clothes before wearing. This will remove excess dyes and fabric finishers, which can irritate the skin.

Contact Us

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Elizabeth City
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Cedar Point
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  • Cedar Point, NC 28584
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New Bern
  • 3311 Trent Road
  • New Bern, NC 28562
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Morehead City
  • 4252 Arendell Street, Suite H
  • Morehead City, NC 28557
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Edenton
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Washington
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  • Washington, NC 27889
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