How is eczema in children treated?

Eczema in children can usually be treated without medications. The initial treatment includes limiting bathing to three or fewer times a week to avoid drying out the skin. People with eczema should also use lotion daily. However, lotion (along with soaps and detergents) should always be unscented, as scented products may irritate the skin. If eczema does not improve with these changes, a topical steroid is often used next. Anti-allergy medications may also help, and in severe cases, medications that weaken the immune system may be used. 
The first step in the treatment of eczema is to remove or reduce irritants in the household that may be the cause of flare-ups. For example, switch to a mild laundry detergent designed for sensitive skin. Also, advise children to avoid, when possible, getting sweaty and to wash their hands only when necessary.

When bathing, children should use only a small amount of mild soap with cool to warm water. Soaking in a tub for 10 to 20 minutes can help the skin absorb water. Afterward, children should dry off and apply a chemical-free, fragrance-free moisturizer or petroleum jelly to help seal in moisture and reduce itching. Frequent, consistent moisturizing is the key step in controlling symptoms and avoiding flare-ups.

A widespread rash and extreme itching mark severe cases of eczema. Children with severe eczema should meet with an immunologist or allergist, who will take a complete medical history and run a series of diagnostic tests, including environmental and food allergy tests. If the child is found to have allergies, an allergist or dietitian can provide guidance about how to avoid these irritants.

A pediatrician or dermatologist may prescribe stronger topical creams or antibiotics if the over-the-counter remedies are not effective. Other prescription topical medications have become available to treat eczema in children who do not tolerate topical steroids or do not improve sufficiently with them.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.