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Eczema in Children

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is eczema?

Eczema is an itchy, red skin rash. Eczema is common in children between the ages of 2 months and 5 years. Your child is more likely to have eczema if he or she also has asthma or allergies. Eczema is a long-term condition. Your child may have flare-ups from time to time for the rest of his or her life.

Eczema

What are the signs and symptoms of eczema?

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

What triggers eczema?

Anything that increases dryness or makes your child want to scratch is a trigger. Triggers can cause eczema to flare up. The following are common triggers:

  • Frequent baths or showers can lead to dry, itchy skin.
  • Sudden temperature changes , such as cold air, dries your child's skin. Heat can increase sweating. Both can make your child itch.
  • Allergens such as dust mites and pet dander can make your child's symptoms worse. Pollen, mold, and cigarette smoke may also irritate his or her skin.
  • Stress may cause your child's eczema to get worse.

How is eczema diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will examine your child's skin. Tell your child's provider if you know what triggers your child's rash. He or she will want to know if anyone in your family has allergies, asthma, or eczema. Your child's provider may test your child for allergies to find out if they trigger his or her eczema.

How is eczema treated?

There is no cure for eczema. The goal of treatment is to reduce your child's itching and pain and add moisture to his or her skin. Your child's symptoms should improve after 3 weeks of treatment. He or she may need the following:

  • Medicines may help reduce itching, redness, pain, and swelling. They may be given as a cream or pill. Your child may also receive antibiotics if he or she has a skin infection.
  • Phototherapy , or light therapy, may help heal your child's skin.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How can I care for my child's skin?

  • Remind your child not to scratch. Pat or press on your child's skin to relieve itching. Your child's symptoms will get worse if he or she scratches. Trim your child's fingernails. This will help prevent skin tears if he or she scratches. Put cotton gloves or mittens on your child's hands while he or she sleeps.
  • Keep your child's skin moist. Use moist bandages if directed. Rub lotion, cream, or ointment into your child's skin at least 2 times a day. 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.
  • Give your child warm water baths or showers for 10 minutes or less. Use mild bar soap. Teach your child how to gently pat his or her 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.
  • Have your child avoid changes in temperature , especially activities that cause him or her to sweat a lot. Sweat can cause itching. Remove blankets from your child's bed if he or she gets hot while sleeping.
  • Avoid allergens, dust, and skin irritants. Use mild soap, shampoo, and detergent. Do not use fabric softener.
  • Ask your child's healthcare provider about allergy testing. Allergy testing may help identify allergens that irritate your child's skin.
    Skin Prick Test

When should I seek immediate care?

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

When should I call my child's doctor?

  • Most of your child's skin is red, swollen, painful, and covered with scales.
  • Your child develops bloody, painful crusts.
  • Your child's skin blisters and oozes white or yellow pus.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

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Further information

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