June 14, 2017
ARTICLE:

Living with eczema

By Dr Pinzon Charry

Baby with Eczema on face

What is eczema? 

Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a very common inflammatory condition of the skin. While the causes are not well understood, eczema occurs when the skin barrier does not function properly causing the skin to dry out. Children with eczema are usually affected by dry, scaly, red and itchy skin. Ooze and skin break down may also occur which can be distressing.

In babies, eczema is most commonly found on the face, scalp and neck and may spread to other parts of the body. In older children, eczema also occurs in these upper body areas but is seen more often in the creases of elbows, knees. Eczema tends to improve significantly with age usually resolving by the age of five. Whilst some children will completely outgrow their eczema, most will continue to have a tendency for dry and sensitive skin into their adult years.

Are eczema and allergies associated?

It is common for people with eczema to have or develop other allergies. In fact, many infants with severe eczema will also have food or environmental allergies. Despite this apparent relationship, food avoidance will not cure eczema however in certain children, removal of specific food(s) may help improve more severe eczema symptoms. It is important to have your Immunologist/Allergist advise and monitor this approach as food restrictions are generally unnecessary and could impact negatively on your child’s growth and nutrition.

What about other triggers?

Because the skin barrier is damaged, this makes the skin more susceptible to irritants. Triggers such as chlorinated pools, sandpits, carpets or grass, perfumes, soap, chemicals, woollen or synthetic fabrics, temperature changes or even stress and infections are known to worsen eczema. Avoidance of these potential triggers is not routinely recommended and may only be relevant for some sufferers of the condition.

Treatment

A common misconception is that highly specialised skin products are required to manage eczema yet this is generally not the case. Oral steroids can be beneficial to treat inflammation but must be used as prescribed and are not recommended for general use as they can lead to new flare ups post use.

It is recommended that sufferers avoid skin products which contain food-derived oils such as coconut or peanut or food-derived proteins such as goat or soy products, particularly if your child has allergies to these.

It is important to be aware that eczema flares can not only create discomfort, but can also lead to scarring if not treated, or trauma to the skin from associated itching and inflammation.

I recommend following three basic principles to see a marked improvement of your child’s eczema.

1.  Moisturise

  • Keep skin hydrated by using moisturisers 3-5 times per day. Some examples of products include Dermeze, Aveeno, QV, Epaderm, etc.
  • Use oils in the bath or shower (QV, Paraffin oil, etc)
  • Use ointments (a type of “oily cream”) over creams
  • If available utilise baths over showers as baths allow for better moisturisation

2. Treat flares:

  • Treat redness and inflammation quickly and with sufficient topical steroid
  • Use steroid ointments over creams and use steroids with adequate potency. Please seek medical advice
  • Apply moisturisers only after the corticosteroid has been applied to affected areas

3. Control itch & infection:

  • Use cold compresses / wet wraps. Wet wraps are bandages wrapped over moisturisers and steroids and applied to affected areas. This will control the itch by cooling the skin and rehydrating the area.
  • Use non-sedating antihistamines regularly to control itch. Some examples of non-sedating antihistamines include Zyrtec, Claratyne, Aerius, Telfast, etc
  • If there are signs of early infection (red, hot, weeping eczema), use an antiseptic wash like Condy’s Crystals in the bath
  • See your doctor as antibiotics may be required

For more information visit www.allergy.org.au or see your doctor who can refer you to a paediatric allergist.


If your child is experiencing regular symptoms or side effects from eczema, it may be time to seek paediatric specialist care. Make an appointment with Dr Pinzon Charry, call 07 3177 2000 or use the booking form to make an appointment.


 

Have you used our service? We are always looking for ways to improve so please take the time to complete our survey.

 

Breast or Formula… What is ...
Choosing whether to breast or formula feed your bub is one of hardest decisions to make as a new or expecting parent.
How to make a healthy lunchbox
Whether you’re making your own lunchbox, or you’re making one for the youngest members of your household, it should be a snapshot of a normal day of healthy eating.
Working with children with ...
Where do you start when, as a parent, you’re worried about your child?
What can I do with my child’s ...
What is hay fever? Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is caused by allergy to environmental inhalants like pollens (grasses or trees), dust mite, animal ...
How is ADHD diagnosed?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common reasons for referral to a paediatrician. Sometimes parents are worried, ...
Is your child ready to start ...
Is your child is halfway through their kinder year and you're not sure if things are okay with their development or behaviour? Have you been ...
How is ASD diagnosed?
Autism and Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are now on everyone's radar thanks to increasing awareness and understanding that early intervention ...
What does a developmental ...
Have you ever wondered why your child does things that just don’t seem right or exhibits behaviour that you haven’t observed in other ...
What's the difference between a ...
General paediatricians can treat (or are involved in the care of) most medical and developmental problems in children; it's a skillset in itself ...
Gifted Children and Behavioural ...
Why gifted children develop behavioural problems I have had a little run of seeing kids in clinic of late who have been particularly gifted.  It ...
Headaches and Migraines in ...
Headaches are really common in children and we see this problem frequently as general paediatricians. Of the children who get referred to us, over 90% ...
Intellectual Disability (Or ...
So having blogged for the last few weeks on creepy-crawly, icky, infectious things you can catch, today for a change I thought I’d do a ...
Cold Sores and Herpes Simplex ...
A good friend of mine has had a little one who recently had a terrible experience with her first infection with the cold sore virus, so I ...
Easter holiday programs
Easter holiday programs. Holiday workshops are a great way to break up seemingly endless days at home, while at the same time providing a fantastic ...
Tummy Pain in children
Nothing worse for a parent than knowing your child is in pain or ill and not knowing what to do about it or whether to worry.  Tummy pain is a very ...
Scabies
So after my brilliant (*ahem*)  school-kid infection-trifecta (school sores, head lice and threadworms), I decided that no blog collection about ...
HEAD LICE (AND NITS)
So was contemplating what health topic I might blog about today and was scrolling back through past posts. My thought process was, “Ooooh!! I ...
THREADWORMS (PINWORMS)
So today I am going to blog about something easy and fast!  I was planning on posts on “Fostering resilience in kids” and “Anxiety” but ...
Autistic Spectrum Disorder – ...
Hi there everyone, Here is the long anticipated “Part 2” to our enthralling article on Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Had an absolutely epic ...
Autistic Spectrum Disorder – ...
So it’s a big couple of weeks for parents and kids hasn’t it?  School has gone back for the year and things are returning to normal after what ...