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Eczema in Children



, or atopic dermatitis, is an itchy, red skin rash. It is common in children between the ages of 2 months and 5 years. Your child is more likely to have eczema if he also has asthma or allergies. Flare-ups can happen anytime of year, but are more common in winter. Your child could have flare-ups for the rest of his life.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Patches of dry, red, itchy skin
  • Bumps or blisters that crust over or ooze clear fluid
  • Areas of his skin that are thick, scaly, or hard and leather-like
  • Irritability and difficulty sleeping because of itching

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child develops a fever or has red streaks going up his arm or leg.
  • Your child's rash gets more swollen, red, or warm.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Most of your child's skin is red, swollen, painful, and covered with scales.
  • Your child's rash develops bloody, painful crusts.
  • Your child's skin blisters and oozes white or yellow pus.
  • Your child often wakes up at night because his skin is itchy.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Treatment for eczema

is aimed at reducing your child's itching and pain and adding moisture to his skin. His symptoms should improve after 3 weeks of treatment. There is no cure for eczema. Your child may need any of the following:

  • Medicines , such as immunosuppressants, help reduce itching, redness, pain, and swelling. They may be given as a cream or pill. He may also be given antihistamines to reduce itching, or antibiotics if he has a skin infection.
  • Phototherapy , or ultraviolet light, may help heal your child's skin. It is also called light therapy.

Manage your child's eczema:

  • Reduce scratching. Your child's symptoms get worse when he scratches. Trim his fingernails short so he does not tear his skin when he scratches. Put cotton gloves or mittens on his hands while he sleeps.
  • Keep your child's skin moist. Rub lotion, cream, or ointment into your child's skin. Do this right after a bath or shower when his skin is still damp. Ask your child's healthcare provider what to use and how often to use it. Do not use lotion that contains alcohol because it can dry your child's skin.
  • Use moist bandages as directed. This helps moisture sink into your child's skin. It may also prevent your child from scratching.
  • Let your child take baths or showers for 10 minutes or less. Use mild bar soap. Teach him how to gently pat his skin dry.
  • Choose cotton clothes. Dress your child in loose-fitting clothes made from cotton or cotton blends. Avoid wool.
  • Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home.
  • Use mild soap and detergent. Ask your child's healthcare provider which mild soaps, detergents, and shampoos are best for your child. Do not use fabric softener.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about allergy testing if your child's eczema is hard to control. Allergy testing can help to identify allergens that irritate your child's skin. Your child's healthcare provider can give you suggestions about how to reduce your child's exposure to these allergens.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Eczema in Children (Ambulatory Care)

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