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What to Do If Your Child Shows Signs of Eczema

When my children were infants, they both had very “expressive skin.” Baby acne, urticaria (hives), and patches of eczema were things that as a new mom, I had to figure out how to treat and, more importantly, what this meant about their health to prevent recurrences.


Melissa Scheichl

Creator, The Allergy Mom

Atopic dermatitis, AKA eczema, occurs for approximately 12 percent of children in the United States (9.6 million) and refers to patches of itchy, scaly, red, and irritated skin. Naturally, I looked to the possible sources of irritation that my babies were being exposed to, such as laundry detergents, bath products, and creams, as possible sources of allergens that might be to blame. 

As a treatment, our pediatrician offered a topical cortisone cream to be applied to these angry spots. As my childrens’ eczema persisted and returned with flare-ups from time to time, I was compelled to learn more about how I could not only treat their skin but prevent this from occurring in the first place.

What’s the culprit?

We look to external irritants, but it is very possible that the source of your child’s skin problems is actually coming from within their little body. Allergies are responsible in many cases — in fact, there is a term called the “Atopic March” that refers to a progression of symptoms beginning with eczema, then allergic rhinitis (stuffy, itchy, and/or runny nose), and asthma. In about 35 percent of cases, a food allergy can be to blame for your child’s dermatitis.

Other possible sources include environmental triggers (mold, pet dander, and other allergens), skin infections from bacteria on the skin, stress, and other irritants on the skin that are not allergens (such as food residue on your baby’s face that causes irritation but is not due to an allergy).

What should you do?

Have your doctor take a look and diagnose your child’s eczema to be sure that is what you’re dealing with. As The Allergy Mom, I am a huge proponent for allergy testing (skin and/or blood testing), and encourage you to look critically at what your child is exposed to (internally and externally) that might be one of the culprits listed above. 

When my kids were suffering, I tried various lotions and petroleum jelly to create a barrier and lock in moisture, as well as the aforementioned cortisone creams prescribed by our doctor. However, it wasn’t until we discovered the triggers (which in our case were food allergens for my daughter and environmental (dust and dog dander) for my son) that we found true relief from recurrences.

Current research encourages parents to take their infants’ eczema seriously and to provide treatment early on to prevent the progression to more severe conditions, such as asthma, down the road. I recommend reaching out to your family doctor and a pediatric allergist for diagnosis and treatment options. Don’t be afraid to seek opinions and ask as many questions as you need to.

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