Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin. It is not contagious. It can occur at any time, and may have periods of remission or disappear later in life. It is characterized by itchy, red patches that sometimes weep clear fluid or may bleed. It can become thick and scaly and spread all over the body or may present as a fine, patchy red rash.
This condition is usually managed at home. Bathe the child in warm water with a fragrance free, mild soap. Skin should be patted dry, not rubbed and daily moisturizer should be applied to the entire body immediately after bath. Only fragrance-free, alcohol-free moisturizers should be used. Sometimes, a prescription corticosteroid cream may be applied to control severe cases. Food allergies, environmental allergies, harsh soaps and detergents, stress, exposure to cigarette smoke, chemicals or mold, and dry or very humid weather can all cause a flare up of eczema. Because children often scratch the inflamed skin, cracking, bleeding and infection are constant concerns for children with eczema. Teaching the child proper hand washing, keeping fingernails short, and regular inspection of the skin can help prevent infections and sores. Avoiding tight fitting clothing and choose natural fibers such as cotton to help decrease irritations. With proper treatment, children with eczema can lead normal lives, free from the discomfort of the condition.