How do I relieve my child’s itchy eczema? 7 questions with Med/Ped Melissa Knudson-Johnson, M.D.
By Kristy Bleizeffer Dec 1, 2017
Wyoming’s cold dry winters can wreak havoc on the skin, particularly the delicate skin of children. But if your child has a prolonged itchy rash that doesn’t clear up with lotion, it might be eczema.
Between 10 to 20 percent of infants and about 3 percent of children and adults have eczema. Though it can’t be cured, it can be controlled. Here, Dr. Melissa Knudson-Johnson of Mesa Primary Care answers seven common questions.
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1. What is eczema?
The term “eczema” encompasses several skin irritations characterized by dry, inflamed skin that can lead to itchy patches and rashes. Eczema can look different on different people. Sometimes it is just a dry patch of skin and sometimes it can be very red and oozing.
2. What are the causes?
Exact cause unknown, but they are thought to be an overactive immune system response to an irritant such as scented soaps, lotions and detergents. Eczema is common in families with a history of allergies or asthma.
3. How does temperature affect eczema?
Cold weather tends to dry out the skin which can make this time of the year worse for some people. We also find that taking hot baths or showers will draw moisture out of your skin, so we recommend taking lukewarm baths or showers – especially during this time of the year when the weather is colder.
4. Is it contagious?
Eczema is not contagious but, as stated above, it can run in families especially if there is a history of asthma or allergies. If the skin becomes very red and irritated, it can get infected and the bacteria can spread.
5. How is it treated?
We typically recommend unscented mild soaps, lotions and detergents. We also recommend warm water for baths and showers and then patting the skin dry and immediately applying an unscented moisturizer. Your doctor can also prescribe medicines and/or creams if the areas of dryness are severe.
6. How can I relieve my child’s itch?
Keeping the skin moisturized with a thick lotion or cream will help control the itch. There are other treatments that can be recommended by your physician as well as if the itching is severe.
7. When should we see a doctor?
You should see the physician if the itching is intense and keeping the skin hydrated with lotions is not helping. Also, if the skin is so dry that it is cracking and bleeding you may need a prescription medication. See your doctor if there is any skin breakdown with oozing or drainage from the wound.
Dr. Knudson is a Med/Peds, a type of medical specialty that focuses on both internal medicine and pediatrics. She was born and raised in North Dakota and earned her medical degree from St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine in the Cayman Islands. She is board certified in pediatrics, and is accepting patients of all ages at Mesa Primary Care.