8 steps to managing childhood eczema better

July 03, 2017
  • How to manage child eczema
    1 / 9 How to manage child eczema

    Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition that affects one in five school children in Singapore.

    But isn’t caused by one single thing.

    “It is a multifactorial disease caused by interactions between your genes and the environment, as well as the body’s immune system,” says Dr Rachael Teo, specialist in dermatology and consultant, Raffles Skin & Aesthetics.

    Although, there appears to be a strong genetic component – if a family member suffers from asthma, atopic eczema or allergic rhinitis, the risk of a child developing eczema is higher, Dr Teo adds.

    Related: Kid sneezes a lot in the morning: allergic rhinitis or sinusitis?

    Dr Elisa Villa, a specialist in allergy and clinical immunology at Maggiore della Carita University Hospital in Novara, Italy, also shares: “Research has also shown that 20 to 30 per cent of people with eczema lack a protein called filaggrin, which maintains epidermal stability and helps skin retain water. Filaggrin deficiency is caused by a genetic mutation.”

    Here’s how you can help your child.

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  • Moisturise often
    2 / 9 Moisturise often

    “Your child should apply a liberal amount of moisturiser to eczema-prone areas at least twice a day or as frequently as required to restore the skin barrier and keep itching at bay,” notes Dr Chan Yuin Chew, a dermatologist at Gleneagles Hospital.

    This should be done right after showering, while his skin is still wet. “If your child goes swimming, he should slather on a thick layer of moisturiser before entering the pool and shower immediately after a swim,” adds Dr Teo.

    Related: Does salt therapy help kids with eczema

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  • Use suitable skincare products
    3 / 9 Use suitable skincare products

    “Use cream- or ointment-based moisturisers and gentle, soap-free body washes whenever possible. And avoid formulations with perfume or fragrances,” recommends Dr Teo.

    Related: Baby eczema: finding the best skin moisturiser

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  • Wear comfortable clothes
    4 / 9 Wear comfortable clothes

    “Refrain from wearing clothes made of rough, scratchy fabrics, such as wool and synthetic fibres, which can irritate the skin,” says Dr Chan.

    Dr Villa adds that you should opt for light-coloured cotton clothes, as well as use a mild cleanser like Marseille soap to wash his clothes. “It is pH-neutral and additive-free,” she says.

    Related: Baby eczema: 4 things to know

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  • Keep fingernails short
    5 / 9 Keep fingernails short

    “Encourage your child to keep his fingernails short and file them smooth at all times, as this helps reduce skin damage from scratching,” notes Dr Chan.

    If he scratches a lot during the night, consider getting him to wear lightweight gloves to bed.

    Related: 7 things you need to know about baby skin

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  • Keep sweating to a minimum
    6 / 9 Keep sweating to a minimum

    “Sweat that is induced by heat or exercise can dehydrate the skin and make eczema worse,” observes Dr Villa.

    So where possible, Junior should keep cool in a well-ventilated or air-conditioned room, and shower immediately after exercise.

    Related: Baby eczema: Doctor’s advice on diet, treatment

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  • Seek medical treatment
    7 / 9 Seek medical treatment

    “Your child’s doctor may prescribe topical corticosteroid creams and oral antibiotics to reduce skin inflammation,” says Dr Teo.

    In addition, Dr Villa shares that “dietary supplements, such as probiotics, vitamin D and omega-3, have also proven helpful in managing eczema”.

    Related: Does your child need vitamin supplements?

    But consult a doctor before administering any to your child.

    If your child’s eczema fails to respond to these treatments, his doctor may recommend more serious therapies like phototherapy (light therapy).

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  • Watch out for food allergies
    8 / 9 Watch out for food allergies

    “While food allergies do not cause eczema, they can sometimes aggravate its symptoms. If Junior’s itching worsens or he experiences any gastrointestinal or respiratory discomfort after consuming certain foods, consult his doctor immediately,” recommends Dr Chan.

    Related: Allergies in children: 10 things parents must know

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  • Support your child
    9 / 9 Support your child

    “Eczema is more than just a physical condition – it’s a psychological one, too,” says Dr Villa.

    “For instance, the itchiness that accompanies eczema may keep your child awake at night and disturb his sleep. This may make him more tired and anxious during the day. And given that the symptoms of eczema are highly visible, it may also affect his self-esteem.”

    Your support will go a long way in helping your child cope with the disease, adds Dr Chan.

    This story first appeared in The Singapore Women’s Weekly. The go-to, trusted magazine for the latest news and information in areas that matter most to the professional working woman, The Singapore Women’s Weekly is now available in both print and digital formats. Visit www.WomensWeekly.com.sg for more.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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