This post is also available in: Svenska
Eczema is common in children and consists of dry, red, itchy skin areas. In infants, eczema often sits on the cheeks. In slightly older children, they move to arm folds and knee folds and even in older children, to their hands. But they can occur anywhere on the body.
Eczema comes more often in children who have dry skin. So the basic treatment of eczema is moisturizing cream. This makes the skin soft and supple. It is important to moisturize the child so they don’t itch. Itching creates eczema, which creates itching, which creates eczema and so on. The vicious circle of itching must be broken.
There are many different kinds of moisturizing ointments, creams and lotions available at pharmacies and in other stores. The difference between lotion, cream and ointment is that lotion is liquid, cream is fatter than lotion and ointment is the fattiest.
It takes a lot of moisturizing cream to treat a child with eczema, so make sure you get it on prescription from a doctor. Miniderm (glycerol 20%) is a common moisturizing cream that we often prescribe to children. Moisturizing creams for adults can work, but some many sting children easily. If the child thinks Miniderm stings, you can try Minicare (glycerol 20%) or Locobase repair (polyglycerol/lactic acid). However, they cannot be written on prescription (in Sweden).
What about cortisone creams?
If the skin does not heal from the moisturizer, buy a tube of hydrocortisone 1% cream available at pharmacies. Apply morning and evening on the eczema-affected areas. Continue moisturizing on dry areas.
The cortisone creams you can buy without a prescription at pharmacies are weak and are not absorbed through the skin to the baby’s blood. They do not therefore give side effects, even with long-term use. (That’s why they’re sold without a prescription).
Use cortisone creams morning and evening until the skin has recovered. Then continue once a day for a few weeks and then every other day for a couple of weeks or longer if necessary.
Optimal moisturizing technique
Use both moisturizer and cortisone cream liberally. There are plenty of moisturizing techniques found online.
Water worsens eczema and dries the skin out. If your baby has dry skin, it is a good idea not to bathe the baby too often. A guideline for children with dry and eczema-prone skin is not to bathe them for more than 1-2 times a week. Wash off sticky parts of the skin with a wet washcloth as often as necessary instead. After bathing, the child should be lathered with lots of moisturizing cream! It’s comforting. Feel free to put the baby on a towel in bed and sing and talk and cuddle when you moisturize them.
The cold brings out eczema
Many children have such fine and soft cheeks any time in the summer, but red chapped cheeks and lips in winter. Cheeks that are chapped during the winter season should be moisturized morning and evening with plenty of moisturizing cream and, if necessary, a weak cortisone cream.
Children licking their mouths
Some children have a habit of licking their mouths. Especially in winter, this can lead to quite troublesome skin irritations on the skin around the mouth.
If this is your child, be sure to moisturize with greasy softening ointment morning and evening. If the child is old enough, try to explain to the child that the skin around the mouth becomes itchy and red when the child licks it. Check with the child if they want to get rid of the redness and itching. If the child wants to, then explain that the child must stop licking. Ask the child, if you can remind them to stop when you see them licking.
Eczema that exudes
Eczema that exudes fluid may have a bacterial infection. Go to the doctor and you’ll receive antibiotics that you can apply to the wound. It is difficult for infected eczema to heal without antibiotics.
When should I go to the doctor with eczema?
If the moisturizer and weak cortisone cream does not help, it’s a good idea to seek medical care. There are stronger eczema ointments available on prescription. In difficult-to-treat eczema, one would like to investigate whether there is a food allergy causing it. Most of the time, however, it is not an allergy.