By Zoey Glick, MD
Eczema is one of the most common as well as one of the most complicated dermatology conditions in kids. Eczema can run in families and is often seen in patients with allergies and asthma. Sometimes kids will “grow out” of their disease, but it can become a lifelong condition.
Eczema is a disease of the skin barrier. When the skin barrier is compromised, kids can get very uncomfortable and get into an “itch scratch cycle.” This cycle can be hard to break and can impact kids’ (as well as parents’) daily life as well as sleep. Also, when patients have a broken down skin barrier they can get secondary infections (bacteria and viruses) within their eczema.
Research has shown that kids who have a family history of eczema and are coated daily in Vaseline (or other thick emollients) are less likely to develop eczema. I try to teach my patients and their parents that minimizing irritants (hard soaps, fragrances etc.), using a non-scented soap, and using a thick moisturizer (after any prescription medications are applied) is the best way to help current eczema, as well as prevent flares.
Most patients with eczema can be managed with topical steroids or non-steroids and oral anti-itch medication. Sometimes with patients who are more severe we have to use short term prednisone, light therapy (an anti-itch and anti-inflammatory focused wavelengths of light), oral antibiotics, oral antivirals or other systemic therapies. Prevention of flares and close contact with a medical provider can help make patients (as well as parents) feel better during their day to day lives.