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Jan 28 2016
What to do with eczema?

In the dry Wisconsin winter many children suffer from eczema. In young kids, eczema can range from a few dry, itchy patches inside your elbows or knees to a full body, itchy, bumpy rash. Here are some steps to help manage your child’s eczema at home.

The first step is prevention. Make sure to only use quality and fragrance-free products from laundry detergent, to soap, to creams. Often, it is the perfume in different products that can be very aggravating to the sensitive skin of your little ones, leading to dryness and irritation. There are many products marketed as baby friendly that are in fact very harsh and drying. Look for key words like “fragrance-free,” “hypo-allergenic,” or “for sensitive skin” and don’t assume that because it says “baby” it is a good product.  

The second step is using a quality moisturizer. At least twice per day, apply a good amount of an emollient moisturizer. There are many commercially available creams that work well. Avoid scented lotions and instead get a thick, moisturizing cream. If you want a specific brand recommendation, call your doctor’s office. If you are trying to save money, good old fashioned petroleum jelly is an excellent option. It is especially important to apply a generous layer of cream to the entire body after getting out of the bath. This helps to lock all of the moisture from the bath into the skin and prevents the bath from actually causing dryness. Even when your child’s eczema is under control, applying a moisturizer every single day can help to keep the skin well moisturized and prevent flares of eczema.   

The third step is a low dose steroid cream. When your child has dry, itchy patches that are not getting better despite lots of moisturizing cream, it is probably time for a steroid. Start with an over-the-counter, 1% hydrocortisone cream or ointment. This should only be applied to the more severely affected red or itchy spots of skin. It can be applied 2-3 times per day. This will not only help with itching, but also help the skin heal. Do not apply the hydrocortisone to the face or diaper area without talking to your doctor first.  

If your child’s eczema is not improving with all of the steps listed above, it is time to see your doctor as you may need a prescription strength medication. 

Dr. Grace Black is a pediatrician at HFM Pediatrics. 


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