Have you noticed rashes on your child’s arms, hands or face? If so, he or she could be having toddler eczema.
Also known as atopic dermatitis, toddler eczema is an inflammatory condition that causes the skin to become dry, itchy and scaly. In some cases, it leads to bumps that leak fluids. At its worst, the itching can be so severe that it interrupts the child’s sleep and exposes the skin to secondary infections.
Although it’s not contagious, eczema can be upsetting to children. In this guide, we will uncover the causes, symptoms, preventive measures and the treatment for eczema.
Causes of Eczema
The first question you might be asking yourself is simple: What causes this condition? Here’s a summary of the most common reasons why kids get toddler eczema:
According to statistics, a child is highly likely to develop eczema if one of the parents has a history of the condition. A mutation of filaggrin, the gene responsible for making cells that build the skin’s outer layer, has been found to increase the chances of eczema in individuals. This layer helps keep moisture in the skin and prevent any allergens and bacteria from penetrating it. If this layer stops functioning properly, it becomes easy for bacteria and allergens to get in and moisture to get out. The result is dried outer skin, which is more likely to react to external substances, which in turn means increased chances of getting eczema. More people who have the filaggrin gene mutation get eczema compared to those without the mutation.
Toddler eczema is not a sign of a weak immune system. On the contrary, it is a sign of a sensitive immune system that overreacts to harmless substances. This means that a slight exposure to substances, like soap and cosmetics, may result in your child’s immune system launching an inflammatory response, leading to itchy or red skin.
The environment is not a direct cause of toddler eczema, but it can contribute to the development of the condition in children who are already genetically predisposed. Some of the things that can induce eczema include sweat, rough fabrics, certain soaps, stress and allergens, such as pollen.
Signs and Symptoms of Toddler Eczema
Your child could be suffering from eczema if he or she displays the following symptoms:
- Rashes that may develop bumps that bleed when scratched
- Itching, which may be severe, especially at night
- Red to brownish-gray patches, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest and face
- Thick, cracked and scaly skin
- Dry skin
Symptoms can vary depending on age. Infants who are younger than 12 months develop eczema rashes on their forehead or scalp. Afterwards, the rashes tend to spread to the knees, trunk and elbows. On the other hand, older kids and teens develop rashes on their necks, knees or inner wrists and ankles.
There is no specific test used to diagnose toddler eczema. However, the doctor may observe the rashes and ask about the symptoms, the child’s past health and the family’s health to determine the cause. The physician may recommend changing diets, switching detergents or making other changes to determine what the child could be reacting to.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for toddler eczema, but your doctor can recommend different treatments depending on the severity of the symptoms, location of the rashes and your child’s age. Some of the treatments are the following:
- Topical corticosteroids, which are creams used to ease skin inflammation
- Moisturizers, like jellies or creams
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Fragrance-free cleansers
Preventing Toddler Eczema
It is difficult to prevent eczema if your child is already genetically predisposed. However, the following measures can help minimize it:
- Find out your child’s triggers and avoid them as much as possible
- Moisturize your child’s skin often and encourage him or her to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Bathe your child in warm water using unscented soaps
- Dress your child in cotton clothes and avoid clothing made from polyester
- Keep your child’s fingernails short to minimize injuries from scratching
When to See a Doctor
If your kid shows any signs of other skin infections, like pus-filled bumps, develops a fever or stops responding to the doctor’s recommendations, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor.
Toddler eczema is not contagious; thus, it cannot spread from one person to another. It is mostly a result of genetic predisposition and the immune system’s reaction to environmental triggers. Therefore, having knowledge about what triggers to avoid can help you take measures to prevent the disease or minimize its effects.