IN THIS series of 5 articles, we explore the 5 most common illnesses among children below 5.
About 1 in 10 children are likely to get eczema, resulting in sensitive and irritated skin. If your child suffers from eczema, it is important to know what you can do to relieve the symptoms.
Eczema is a skin condition that often starts in early infancy.
It is characterised by dry, red and itchy skin. It can get worse from time to time and subside as they get older.
It is usually a long-term condition which affects about 10-20% of children. However, it can improve significantly in some children as they get older.
Signs And Symptoms
In younger children below 2 years old, eczema tends to start on the face, scalp, neck and body. In older children, eczema can appear in the creases of the elbows and knees as well as the wrists, ankles and buttocks. It tends to worsen during illnesses like a cough or a cold, in hot weather or dusty environment.
Itchy skin is the main sign of eczema. This causes them to scratch and rub the affected areas, which breaks the skin, and increases the risk of skin infection.
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What Should You Do?
There is no cure for eczema, but the following measures can relieve itching and prevent new outbreaks.
- Use a cleanser that is mild and gentle on the skin
- Use moisturizer liberally and frequently on the affected areas
- Bathing time should be short and with lukewarm water, and followed soon by moisturizer application
- Maintain comfortable levels of air humidity and temperature in your home
The doctor or paediatrician may prescribe a steroid-based cream for severe flare-ups of eczema.
Previous Article About Coping With Sick Kids Under 5
Though the exact cause of eczema is unknown, you can prevent flare-ups by doing the following:
- Discourage scratching by using mittens in young babies and keeping fingernails trimmed
- Avoid using harsh detergents and cleansers
- Avoiding allergens like house dust mites or substances known to worsen the condition
Ways to reduce house dust mites include:
- Avoid keeping plush toys
- Washing bedding sheets in warm (>60°C) water weekly
- Cleaning the air conditioner filter weekly
When To Seek Medical Attention
- If the child’s eczema worsens despite intensive moisturising
- When there are suggestions of secondary skin infection like intensive redness and itch, yellow discharge from the skin, fever and swelling around the site.