Your child has recently been idly scratching away at a patch of skin on his arm. You’ve noticed a reddish tinge to the area, and soon, you see a scaly patch of skin at the site. You tell him it’s just a rash and apply a topical skin cream there. After a day, he comes back to you and shows his arm. The patch of skin has now started oozing.
Should you be worried? Yes, it is likely that your child is suffering from eczema. This is a skin condition characterised by changes in the skin on just a single site or all across the body. There is no known cause for the condition; in fact, it is often attributed to a series of factors. However, the condition is often a genetic one, and air pollution and colder climates will exacerbate it in children. Some adults may also suffer from it, but it is more commonly seen in children.
Contrary to popular belief, eczema is not contagious. Nor is it triggered by certain foods. More importantly, it is important to recognise eczema symptoms and differentiate them from other skin problems.
* Red, angry rash on the skin
* Recurring scaly patches on the skin
* Oozing patches of skin with watery discharge
* Slight swelling of the skin that is painful to the touch
* Crusted patches of skin
* Extreme irritation and itching
It is important to take the doctor’s advice on treating your child’s eczema with careful diet and clothing choices. Often, even the softest fabrics may irritate the inflamed skin and reduce your child to tears. Make sure to wash your child’s clothes with fabric softeners and remove any woollen items from his wardrobe till he is healed – wool fibres may get stuck in the affected skin and cause irritation.
Also, your child must be encouraged to maintain a high level of hygiene, especially when the skin patches begin to ooze and become inflamed. Get him a packet of skin wipes approved by the doctor to gently wipe away the excess secretion. If advisable, cover the skin patches with gauze and medical tape when he is out of doors to prevent topical infections.
This is a difficult disease to cure, and you and your child must be patient when dealing with it. Take care to eliminate all triggers, including certain foods that cause the eczema symptoms to flare up. You must start by building your child’s immune system, encouraging clean habits, keeping his work and play surfaces germ-free with gentle disinfectants, and seeing an experienced dermatologist for a long term skin care plan to keep eczema in check.