One of the most common concerns I address in my clinic is eczema. Eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) is a very common skin problem, affecting about 10-15% of children in the United States. Children with eczema have red, dry, itchy patches of skin. The diagnosis of eczema can be made by the appearance, history and distribution of rash. Eczema often runs in children and families with a history of allergies and asthma.
To manage your child's eczema, limit bathing to no more than 4 times per week and limit time in the tub to 5 minute or less. Use a gentle cleanser such as Dove, Cetaphil or CeraVe. Do not use a washcloth, hot water or bubble bath. After bathing, gently pat dry skin (don’t rub!) and apply a moisturizer. Moisturize the skin twice daily. Ointments and creams work better compared to lotions. Eucerin, Aquaphor, and Vaseline are great! If your doctor prescribed a topical steroid, apply it after bathing and then wait about 30 minutes to apply the moisturizer.
Eczema can be severe and very irritating. To prevent infection of the skin, keep your child’s fingernails trimmed short and wash your child’s hands frequently. If eczema worsens or does not improve, make sure to schedule an appointment with your child's pediatrician.
Dr. Ashley Osborne is a pediatrician in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is affiliated with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She received her medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.