June 14, 2017

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.


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.


Does my child need to see a ...
The first five years of your child’s life are critical for brain development. Early stimulation from all senses create the foundations for learning ...
National Disability Insurance ...
As many of you may be aware, the NDIS has started its roll out throughout Queensland. In fact there are over 7,000 people enrolled in Queensland ...
Excessive screen use and our kids
With advancing technology, our children seem to be spending more and more time using screens. The American academy of Paediatrics recommends NO ...
  The fidget spinners craze has been incredible to watch however it has led to some confusion around 'fidgets' and how they might ...
Living with eczema
What is eczema?  Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a very common inflammatory condition of the skin. While the causes are not well understood, eczema ...
Mindfulness: Can it help my ...
It is hard to escape all the talk about Mindfulness. In fact, it is being mentioned so much in mainstream media that it would be easy to dismiss it ...
Let’s talk about anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis is the most severe and potentially dangerous type of allergic reaction. It is especially serious as it usually affects multiple bodily ...
What about the flu vaccine if my ...
Vaccinating your children is very important to reduce the risk of them developing serious infections such as measles, meningococcal disease or ...
Introduction of Solids
Avoiding allergenic foods in infancy and allergy In 2008, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommended early childhood avoidance of highly ...
ASCIA Guidelines for the ...
ASCIA GUIDELINES FOR THE PREVENTION OF FOOD ALLERGIES Maternal Diet in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Excluding foods from maternal diet in ...
Food Intolerance
IS IT INTOLERANCE OR ALLERGY? Food allergy is an immune reaction to foods. Food intolerance is better understood as a chemical sensitivity which is ...
Tongue-Ties in Newborns
A tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a short, thin piece of skin under the baby's tongue (lingual frenulum) which restricts the movement of the tongue ...
How do you diagnose epilepsy?
Seizures are quite common in the Australian population.
Eczema tips and tricks
Eczema or atopic dermatitis is an extremely common condition in children.
Chromosomal microarray testing in ...
With the increase incidence in autism, there has been more research into the potential causes for autism
What do you do after a diagnosis ...
With more people being diagnosed with Autism, what do you need to do after your child has been given a diagnosis?
What does an autism assessment ...
What does an Autism Assessment does actually entail?
Coughing in children
What are the common causes of coughing?
Bed Wetting
About 5% of children aged nine to ten still wet the bed.
Anxiety in Children
Anxious behaviours are common in children.