Eczema, also known as 'atopic dermatitis' is more common in infants and children. It is one of the most bothersome and chronic disorders of the skin. Atopic eczema is the type commonly observed in children, while contact eczema is more prevalent in adults. The arms, and the region behind the knees, are the commonly affected sites. However, any part of the body may be affected.
Types of Eczema
1. Atopic Eczema (Infantile Eczema)
This form generally affects people who are extremely sensitive to allergens in their environments such as pollen, dust, animal skin or hair, and certain foods. Many experts believe that children suffering from this condition may be genetically predisposed to get eczema from parents or family members who have a history of hay fever, asthma, or other allergies.
This is characterized by an extremely itchy, red patch on the skin, that may sometimes swell, and develop into fissures that may crack and ooze out clear fluid or even blood. The infected skin seems to be crusty and scaled.
2. Hand Eczema
This is a chronic form of eczema that only infects the hand and is also known as hyperlinear palms.
It is caused due to constant hand washing with harsh soaps, detergents, or contact with strong chemicals like bleach, phenyl, etc.
Shiny red blisters and lesions develop on the hands that are quite painful.
People who have this form of eczema find it difficult to perform their daily activities as there are many chances of aggravating the eczema blisters.
3. Nummular Eczema
Its name has been derived from the Latin word nummus, which means coin.
This type produces coin-shaped patches of infected skin, mainly on the legs, arms, or chest. It usually occurs in adults.
4. Seborrheic Eczema
In infants, it is termed as cradle cap, while in adults, it is known as dandruff.
It first develops on the face or neck around the nose and at the scalp line, causing extremely greasy pink or yellow patches, which are often covered by scales.
5. Discoid Eczema
Discoid eczema occurs as round, red scaly patches of blisters, usually affecting the arms and legs.
They become itchy and can ooze fluid, causing the infection to spread.
Treatment of Eczema
Eczema treatment in children or in adults for that matter attempts to reduce the inflammation and itching, as well as prevent future flare-ups.
Topical Medication: Topical (applied over the skin) medication, non-steroid based, or steroid-based are prescribed as per the condition.
Light Therapy: Children may be recommended to expose their skin to controlled amounts of natural sunlight. This process is known as light therapy. In the case of infants, parents are advised to keep them away from skin irritants, and extreme temperatures.
Oils/Lotions/Cream: Using baby bath oils, lotions or creams helps to keep the skin hydrated, thus avoiding dry skin.
Oral Antihistamine: Babies may be given oral antihistamines by the doctor. They help in reducing the itching.
Some Home Care Tips
- Give the children/babies warm baths, choose appropriate baby soaps, and use cool compresses (as it helps in reducing scratching).
- Make your kids wear loose, smooth-textured cotton clothing for better circulation of air.
- Educate your children about the importance of drinking plenty of water to keep their skin moisturized.
In case of extreme dryness, itchiness, or patches due to eczema, it is advisable to consult your paediatrician/dermatologist right away.
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