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What is Eczema?

Eczema refers to a range of conditions which involve skin inflammation, the most common of these being atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is characterized by an itchy, red rash usually appearing in the child’s first year of life. It can actually vary quite widely in its appearance, from a red crusty appearance to thickened dry skin depending on the underlying cause of the eczema.

Atopic dermatitis is a complex disease and although its precise cause is unknown, various genetic and environmental factors are believed to be involved. The itchiness of eczema can be extremely aggravating, to the extent that it may interfere with a child’s sleep or daily activities. It is important to discourage children from scratching their skin as this may cause it to become infected.

Most cases of childhood atopic dermatitis are mild and the vast majority of kids will outgrow the condition. It is a chronic condition so it will need to be continually monitored and managed. Diagnosing eczema can be tricky because each child will have a unique combination of symptoms, it can be confused with various other skin issues, and there is no definitive test to diagnose. If your child’s pediatrician suspects eczema, they will most likely take a thorough medical history for all the family members, looking for a history of hay fever or other allergies, asthma or adult skin conditions. 

Your pediatrician might prescribe a topical steroid cream that you can use to help alleviate itching when flare-ups happen. They will also help you identify things in your child’s environment that might be adding to the skin irritation. Soaps, lotions, dust, mold, and the like might be causing issues to be more severe than they need to be. 

Even though eczema can be bothersome for kids and parents alike, taking some precautions and following the pediatrician’s orders can help keep it under control.

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