Does your baby have a dry red rash on his cheeks that makes him feel itchy and irritable, especially at night? Has the rash spread over his face, down his neck to his nappy region and to his arms and legs? Has it begun to produce pus? If so, consult your doctor or, better yet, a dermatologist. Your child may be one of the many children suffering from infantile eczema.
Infantile eczema is a skin inflammation that develops before children reach the age of five and frequently appears when children are between two- and six-months old. In children one-and-a-half to two-years old, it is commonly found behind the knees and in the bends of the arms, wrists, ankles and neck. Its outbreak occurs periodically and may be more or less severe than the last.
Infantile eczema is diagnosed on the basis of the visual appearances and the pattern of the disease. It is treated with moisturizers to soothe the inflammation and the itching. If it cannot be controlled with moisturizers, a steroid cream is prescribed.
Steroid creams are safe if used correctly. However, the small risk of side effects increases if used constantly. Milder variants are available in pharmacies but they must not be used on children and on the face without first consulting a doctor.
An alternative to steroid creams in reducing inflammation is a non-steroid cream called Elidel (pimecrolimus). It is a weak immunomodulatory drug that modulates or changes the body’s immune system in some way. It is used in treating mild to moderate infantile eczema in children aged two years and over.
Infantile eczema is prone to infection. One of the most dangerous infections is the type caused by the herpes simplex virus. In such severe cases, antibacterials are also prescribed.
Many children outgrow the disease but some do not, and all those suffering from it have a higher risk of developing other atopic illnesses, such as asthmatic bronchitis, asthma, hay fever or some other kind of allergic illness. It is important to constantly treat the disease even if there is no outbreak of rash to avoid serious complications.
A successful treatment of infantile eczema requires a three-pronged approached. First is to relieve the inflammation and the itching, second is to keep the skin moisturized, and third is to avoid whatever triggers the outbreak of rash.
Below are a number of ways to steer clear of the triggers:
- Garments touching the skin, especially undergarments, must be 100% cotton as what is offered by companies like Cottonique . Garments made from wool or synthetic fiber causes sweating and skin irritation.
- Garments must be washed in perfume-free soap and rinsed in water added with household vinegar.
- Emollients or aqueous cream must be used when washing the skin as substitutes for soap.
- A thin film of moisturizer must be applied several times a day during summer while a thick film of moisturizer must be applied during winter.
- Stress must also be avoided.
There is yet no known cause of infantile eczema. However, like three quarters of children suffering from asthma or hay fever, children suffering from this disease have parents or siblings who also suffer from any of the atopic diseases of asthma, hay fever or infantile eczema. Thus, the best way for parents to prevent passing an atopic disease, such as infantile eczema, to their children is to talk to an allergy specialist before having children. They will be advised on the kind of diet to take—a diet that may reduce their children’s risk of developing the disease.