As promised here is the first installment of Eczema 101 to mark National Eczema Week – If you have any requests or questions please leave them in a comment or tweet me @bericebaby.
What does the word Eczema mean?
The word eczema comes from the ancient Greek meaning “to boil over”. It is used to describe an inflammation of the skin, which causes redness, often blistering and intense itching. The most common type of eczema in children is atopic eczema (frequently referred to as atopic dermatitis), which may be associated with asthma or hay fever. Eczema is seen in children worldwide, with an incidence of up to 20% in northern Europe.
Why does my child have eczema?
Atopic eczema is essentially a genetic disorder. Often there is someone else in the family with eczema, asthma or hay fever, but this is not always the case. There are many external factors which may influence eczema on a day to day basis. These are discussed in more detail later on.
Will my child grow out of eczema?
Yes, for the majority of children. Eczema will gradually improve as your child gets older. The age at which eczema ceases to be a problem varies, but many show a significant improvement by the age of 5 years and most will not have eczema as a problem by the time they are teenagers. Only a few continue to have troublesome eczema in adult life.
Is my child’s eczema due to an allergy?
No, eczema is not caused by a specific allergy. However, children with eczema are more prone to allergic reactions and this may make the eczema worse. Children with eczema have a hypersensitive skin, which reacts to many different environmental allergens, such as grass pollen, house dust mites, dander from cats and dogs, and feathers. Young children may react to certain foods, in particular, eggs, cows’ milk, peanuts and fish. The pattern of allergic reactions from one child to another is not consistent and may alter as the child gets older.
For most cases, routine allergy testing is not necessary. However, in some children these tests can be helpful. Allergy testing can be carried out by assessing blood or skin prick tests in reaction to a panel of common allergens. Children with eczema often demonstrate multiple positive results on skin and blood tests, which in itself does not necessarily indicate ‘an allergy’ and does not alter the basic approach to treatment. Conversely, some children with eczema may have no reactions to both blood and skin testing. Therefore the relevance of test results has to be interpreted in relation to the individual child. Allergy testing should be considered in the child with ongoing troublesome eczema, which does not respond to first-line treatment, in an attempt to identify any factors that could be making the eczema worse. Often there is a clue from the history.
How do you feel about your child having Eczema?
Does it run in your family?