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Eczema Symptoms & Treatments

Waterful - Eczema signs and symptoms

October marks Eczema awareness month. Did you know Waterful plastic free Baby Wipes are accepted by the National Eczema Association? Our wipes are dermatologically tested to be safe to use on even the most sensitive of skin.

Eczema (also known as dermatitis) is a non-contagious, inflammatory dry skin condition that can affect people from early infancy to old age. It leaves the skin feeling dry and itchy and affects up to one in five children. It’s most likely to appear for the first time before your child is five years old. On fair skin eczema is red, and on darker skin tones eczema is dark brown, purple or grey. It can be more difficult to see on darker skin tones.

4 Symptoms of eczema

1. Skin Flushing

Eczema can commonly appear first as red flushes on the skin usually around the cheeks 

2. Dry Scaly Patches & Bumps

The red flushes can turn to dry, scaly patches, commonly starting on the cheeks in younger children and can spread to affect elbows, insides of knees, eyelids and hands.

3. Itching

Eczema can cause the skin to become irritable and itchy. This is one of the major symptoms of eczema

4. Skin Becoming Swollen Sore & Cracking 

Itching can lead to the skin become swollen as well as cracking and sometimes leaking fluid depending on the severity. 

If symptoms become worse or your child develops a fever or infection due to the cracked wounds contact your GP immediately. 

Triggers

Many things in our environment can initiate an eczema flare-up. Know your Childs’ triggers so you can prevent a flare-up! Here are some of the more common triggers.

Synthetic Fibres – Many people with eczema find that clothing made with wool and synthetic materials, such as polyester and nylon, cause overheating, sweating and irritation, which can trigger that dreaded itch. Rough seams, fibres, fastenings, clothing tags and threads can also cause problems for sensitive skin. Cotton is the most commonly recommended fabric for people with eczema. Bamboo and silk are good options too.

Fragrances – Fragranced items such as soap, shampoo and lotions are liable to trigger eczema. Synthetic fragrances are particularly problematic, but natural or organic products that contain scent may also aggravate the skin. stick to non-fragranced personal care items that do not contain alcohol. Check the label to make sure water (aqua) is the main ingredient, it will be listed first. 

Heat & sweating – In the summer overheating or sweating can cause a flare-up as the warmth can lead to itching or heat rash. 

Airborne Allergens – Pollen, mold, pet dander and saliva, dust mites, and other allergens may make eczema flare up. 

vacuum regularly and wipe down any objects your child comes into contact with to reduce the amount of dust and fur that may occur. Soft toys should be washed regularly according to the instructions on the label  the temperature needs to be at least 60°C to destroy the mites). Brush pets regularly to remove loose fur, including allergens such as grass pollen, which can become attached to their coats.

Grass, weed and tree pollen can be especially problematic in the spring and summer. If your eczema gets worse in the pollen season, try to keep doors and windows closed on days when the pollen count is high

Food Sensitivities – such as nuts, soy, eggs etc. A food allergy may trigger eczema, but is not the cause of their eczema. Skin signs often involve swollen lips or eyelids, or hives (‘wheals’): lumps in the uppermost layer of the skin, sometimes pale or surrounded by a rim of redness. They usually last minutes or hours and feel itchy, occasionally with a burning sensation. Food allergy only occasionally results in delayed eczema flare ups.

If your child has a food reaction with these symptoms, this could be a medical emergency:

Airway signs
Coughing, hoarse voice or tongue swelling

Breathing difficulty
Wheezing, chesty sounds or heavy breathing

Circulatory signs
Pale skin, drowsiness or sleepiness

You may need to administer an epipen or call the emergency services. 

Treatment

There is no cure for eczema but some treatments can ease symptoms.

Bathing Technique – Keep bath water tepid as heat can aggravate eczema, avoid scrubbing and limit bath time to 5-10 minutes. Use leave on emollients rather than soap or bubble bath as these may contain fragrances that irritate the skin.

Moisturise – Use a dermatologist recommended moisturiser frequently, especially after bathing and during the winter when the weather is more cold and dry. 

Clothing – Opt for loose cotton clothing as it will minimise irritation and the probability of your child becoming too warm and triggering itching. 

Temperature – Keep baby’s room temperature cool to avoid overheating leading to a flare up. If it is summertime use a loose sheet in bed rather than a duvet or heavy blanket.

Hydration – Keep your child’s skin hydrated throughout the day by giving them some cool boiled water.

Nails – Keep children’s nails short or find some soft gloves to prevent itching and breaking the skin.

 

For more information visit eczema.org, HSE.ie, or Nationaleczema.org.

 

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