Help for Parents & Caregivers
Managing Eczema in Children and Babies
Managing eczema in children can be frustrating and at times even feel overwhelming. If you have a child with eczema, going out in public during flare-ups can be stressful because of your child's discomfort or even because you may feel judged as a parent. It can also be very hard to watch your child struggle through this persistent and sometimes painful condition. By learning how to identify your child’s eczema triggers and using gentle and effective products, you can help keep his or her skin healthy and help keep him or her active and happy.
Seventy percent of eczema cases start in children younger than 5 years old, and about 60% of infants who have eczema continue to have one or more symptoms in adulthood. For those who suffer from eczema over their entire lives, symptoms may change over time.
If you’re not sure what your triggers are, figuring them out can be a long and painstaking process, but one that will help keep your skin healthy. Our Flare Discovery Tool can help you identify things to look for in your home, diet, and lifestyle that could have triggered a flare. Try to record your triggers every time you have a flare, and after a while, you should have the list narrowed down. Once you know what your triggers are, you should try your best to avoid them. This will help keep your skin healthy.
Eczema is seen in different variations and different places on the body
depending on age. Here’s what you might expect to see on your baby or child:
Babies (under 2 years old)
- Eczema is usually noticed soon after birth. Dry skin starts early and often involves the whole body, although the diaper area is usually spared.
- Dry, scaly patches in no particular shape are one of the first things you’ll notice. The earliest patches are seen in the creases of the body, with redness and sometimes oozing. Over the following few weeks, dry, red patches are usually seen on the cheeks, the forehead and scalp, and the lower legs. Don’t panic if you see patches elsewhere – they can be anywhere on the body.
- Learn more about the signs and symptoms of eczema.
Children (over 2 years old)
- Dry, flaky, and rough skin can appear on many different parts of the body.
- Skin can become leathery (tough and textured) during childhood eczema, and is seen mostly over skin folds, at joints, and on the forehead.
- Paleness on the face, scaling around the eyes, and increased folds below the eyes are common.
- Creases in the body, especially the region of the arm in front of the elbow and the region of the leg behind the knee, are frequently affected by dry patches.
- If your child experiences oozing, crusting, or a yellowish to light-brown crust or pus-filled blisters over existing patches of eczema, talk to your doctor.
The first point of defense in managing your child’s eczema is to follow a daily moisturizing and bathing routine, which helps to maintain healthy skin. Eczema is still there even when you can’t see it, so be sure to keep following a bathing and moisturizing routine every day to keep his or her eczema under control. It’s also important to understand and manage your child’s triggers.
Here are some things you can do at home to help keep your child’s eczema under control:
- Regular bathing can moisturize and loosen crust from flaring skin, remove dirt and germs, and promote relaxation. Be sure to bathe your child in warm (not hot) water, and try not to scrub or towel too aggressively. It’s best to put on moisturizer within 3 minutes after bathing to help trap the moisture from the bath into the skin. NEOSPORIN® ECZEMA ESSENTIALS™ Daily Moisturizing Cream is gentle enough to use on young children, and is a great way to help protect your child’s skin and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier function. In fact, NEOSPORIN® ECZEMA ESSENTIALS™ Daily Moisturizing Cream has been clinically shown to restore visibly healthier skin in 3 days and relieve dry, itchy skin due to eczema on contact.
- One of the biggest problems associated with eczema is itching and scratching, which can greatly aggravate your child’s eczema. Do your best to discourage your child from scratching. Keeping the skin moisturized on a daily basis and simple things like trimming fingernails go a long way to discourage scratching. If itching still occurs, try using an anti-itch cream with moisturizing benefits like NEOSPORIN® ESSENTIALS™ 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream.
- While stress is normally regarded as an adult issue, having eczema can be very stressful for children, and can aggravate their condition. Do your best to recognize stressors and find ways to cope with them. Try to make your child’s eczema management part of a daily routine, and explain to them why it’s important. Keeping eczema under control means less itching, which means more time to do the fun things kids want to do!
- Dress them in soft, breathable fabrics like cotton, and wash their clothes and bedding in mild detergents, with no bleach or fabric softener.
- Identify their triggers. These may be dry skin, irritants, rough fabrics such as wool, emotional stress, heat and sweating. Patch tests can diagnose eczema response in some cases, so talk to your doctor about determining triggers and allergens. A helpful tool to assist in the process of determining triggers is our Eczema Flare Discovery Tool.
- Sleeping can be a problem for children, as their skin may get hotter and itchier at night. Keep your child’s bedroom cool by using cotton sheets and lightweight bedding, and apply a cream after baths to hold in moisture on wet skin.
- A humidifier helps prevent drying, and should be used when there is less moisture in the air especially in the winter.
- Try to stick to a regular moisturizing and bathing routine.
- Use products that are gentle and designed for use on people with eczema. All of the NEOSPORIN® ESSENTIALS™ products are formulated specially for people with eczema. They are all fragrance-free, and the National Eczema Association (NEA) has given its Seal of Acceptance to the Daily Moisturizing Cream. Learn more about our NEOSPORIN® ESSENTIALS™ products and our scientific support.