Pediatric Eczema

Pediatric Eczema

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Summary

Eczema is a general term to describe a skin irritation that typically appears as a red, itchy rash.

Expanded overview

Eczema refers to any skin rash that is red and itchy. There are eight types of eczema, but the main three that typically affect children are atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis in infants (cradle cap) and contact dermatitis (including allergic and irritant).

Types

  • Atopic dermatitis – a chronic, inflammatory condition. This means it’s a skin irritation that reoccurs — even into a child's adult years. According to the National Eczema Association, atopic dermatitis affects 13 percent of the children under age 18 in the U.S.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis (cradle cap) – affects infants (birth to 1 year*) on the scalp, but “scales” can also appear on the face, neck and diaper area.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis – occurs when a child’s immune system has an allergic reaction to even the smallest amount of an irritant that is inhaled, ingested or touched.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis – occurs when the skin touches a chemical, like bleach or pepper spray.

Causes

Causes of eczema can vary between children, as do allergies and the severity of the reaction to each trigger. Some causes of eczema may be:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Dust mites
  • Extreme weather
  • Food allergens
  • Jewelry (particularly cobalt and nickel)
  • Harsh chemicals, including laundry soap/dryer sheets
  • Makeup or skincare products
  • Pet dander
  • Pollen
  • Rough materials (wool, synthetics)

Symptoms

Eczema can occur anywhere on the body. Symptoms can change with age and include:

  • Itchy, irritated skin
  • Crusty, yellow or white patches (if skin is continually itched)
  • Discoloration around the eyes
  • Dry, flaky skin (including “scales”)
  • Rough bumps on the face, legs and upper arms
  • Skin changes around the ears, eyes and mouth
  • Small, red bumps
  • Scarring, if the child continually scratches open the rashes
  • Thickening of the skin (chronic eczema)

*Age of infants as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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