Rashes are a badge of childhood, but parents can't help but worry if these are a symptom of something much worse. Relax! Given a few days, most rashes will go away on their own. But what if your kids constantly develop intensely itchy rashes? If that's the case, they may have a skin condition called eczema.
THE MYSTERY OF ECZEMA
While the exact nature of eczema is not yet fully understood, doctors believe it is the result of an overactive immune system. You see, the skin has special cells that trigger inflammation as a protective measure against irritants. Unfortunately, people with eczema have more of these special cells, which makes their skins extra sensitive to irritants, hence the recurring rashes. Another reason might be a defect in the skin barrier, which makes it easier for moisture to escape and for germs to enter.
BUT IS IT REALLY ECZEMA?
Good question! The only way to conclusively diagnose eczema is to visit a doctor, but there are a few tell-tale signs to look out for:
1. The appearance of the rash. In eczema, the rashes are red, scaly, dry, and very itchy. The rash also tends to appear on the neck, wrist, ankles, inside the elbow, and behind the knees.
2. Your family health history. Eczema is believed to be linked with allergic diseases, so kids with this condition often have relatives who suffer from asthma and other allergies. In fact, many people with eczema develop these same health issues at some point in their life.
PREVENTION IS KEY
Fortunately, preventing eczema flare-ups is relatively easy. For starters, keep your child's skin moisturized. Also, avoid buying clothes made from scratchy fabric, as this may irritate your child's skin. Likewise, too much heat may trigger rashes, as will soaps made from harsh chemicals. Lastly, keep your pets well groomed so they won't shed dander, which is another common skin irritant.
And if an eczema episode is already underway, be sure to use doctor-recommended, over-the-counter creams like Elica. Just apply it to the rash, and its special formulation can help relieve the itch, redness, and swelling to restore healthy skin.
With knowledge, prevention, and trusted medication, moms can rest assured that their kids can conquer eczema and enjoy a happy childhood!