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How should I manage my child's eczema (atopic dermatitis)?

Several simple things help most cases of eczema. First moisturize the skin.  Use a moisturizing cream (example include Cetaphil, Eucerin or Cerave) to coat the skin and trap the body's own moisture.  Second, decrease the irritation by using an anti-inflammatory steroid cream like hydrocortisone.  Stronger creams can be obtained by prescription.  Keep the skin clean.  Eczema can be fueled by allergies, so have your child avoid these if possible.  If these suggestions don't help, see your health provider or a dermatologist for more advanced treatments.
While eczema itself is a condition that can’t technically be cured, children often outgrow it. In the meantime, it is entirely possible to treat eczema and prevent its symptoms from recurring.

First, stay away from anything that you know causes the rash in your child. Often though, it isn’t one specific thing, but a combination of things that can trigger the eczema.

Decreasing all allergenic or drying substances in your child’s environment can help and is not as daunting as it may seem. For example, use laundry
detergent that is free of perfume and dye. At the same time, steer clear of fabric softeners; they are not recommended for children with eczema.  Similarly, soap should be mild and unscented.

Remember that water, especially if it is soapy, can dry the skin. Instead of rubbing your child’s skin dry after a short bath, gently pat it and slather a mild, unscented ointment or thick cream all over. It’s best to get the  ointment or cream on within 3 minutes of getting out of the bath before the water evaporates and dries the skin even more.

Use ointment or cream twice a day on your little one to keep skin hydrated and to better prevent bad, uncomfortable flare-ups.

When your child’s eczema worsens, talk to your pediatrician, as there are many steroid and nonsteroid creams that can be used on a regular or an as-needed basis. If your child is up all night itching and scratching (which
can increase infection as well as delay healing), your pediatrician may recommend an antihistamine.

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Management for eczema includes identifying and avoiding what aggravates the skin. Anything from certain foods to lanolin, a derivative of wool, can cause a reaction. Ointments and creams soothe irritated skin, and anti-itch medications are sometimes prescribed as well. Very often steroid-based creams are needed. However, a new nonsteroidal cream called Elidel, is now available with a prescription. Moisturize skin daily and resist scratching to avoid skin infections.

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

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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.