What is eczema?
Eczema is a condition where the skin is very itchy and dry and over time the skin can harden in places. It follows a pattern of flaring up and then improving. There’s usually no single factor responsible for an eczema flare up. In between flare up the skin is usually dry and flakey.
How common is it?
In Australia about one in 5 children under 2 are affected. More than 6 million Australians have suffered with eczema at some point, most of these before they turn five years old.
What causes it?
It is not very well understood what causes it, although it is generally agreed that genetics plays a role. The skin barrier in people who have eczema does not work as well as in people who don’t have it. In people who have eczema, the skin lets moisture easily escape, which makes it dry and it also allows irritants to get into the skin which can make it itchy and inflamed.
What is the cure?
There is no cure. Managing eczema and preventing flare ups involves a routine of steps which put the most amount of moisture into the skin, as well as monitoring for any signs of the skin being infected.
What is the emotional impact?
The emotional impact on both the child and the family can be huge and often does not get a mention in the day to day management of your child’s eczema.
A recent UK study which looked at the impact eczema has on families found:
- 72 percent of respondents said their children with eczema had troubled sleep, and 35 per cent said this affected their behaviour at school.
- 67 percent of parents suffered disturbed sleep as a result of their children’s eczema, and 32 percent have had to take time off work to deal with the condition.
- Nearly half of the 800 respondents said the stress and trauma of eczema has caused friction and arguments with their partner.
What is the most common trigger?
Heat is the most common trigger. The reason behind this is that eczema stops the skin getting rid of extra body heat and when the skin is hot it also gets itchy. Keeping your child dressed in cotton clothing and making sure they are not overdressed during the day or sleeping under heavy doonas at night is important in managing their eczema.
Can certain foods cause eczema?
Although certain foods can trigger a flare up, foods are not the cause. This means that if a certain food triggers your child’s eczema, removing that food from their diet might mean their eczema is better controlled, but won’t mean that they no longer have it.
What other health conditions are more likely if my child has eczema?
Many children will also have hay fever, asthma and food allergies, or will develop them later in life.
This blog post was brought to you and your child with love from Julia and the Itchy Baby Co. team. X
Disclaimer: Information provided is of a general nature only, and you should always consult your medical professional.