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Eczema - a problem with skin

skin; disease; itchy; itch; sores; disease; eczema; allergy; dermatitis ;

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eczemaSometimes you can feel really itchy, and want to scratch like mad to stop the feeling.

Try to avoid scratching as much as possible, as you could scrape off the top layers of your skin and let germs get in.

Some people have problems with patches of their skin and they may often feel like they want to scratch these patches like mad. One of these problems could be a skin disease called eczema.

What is eczema?

  • Eczema – (say ek-sma) is an inflammation (say in-flam-ay-shun) of the skin. Inflammation means that the skin is swollen and red.
  • Eczema causes patches of the skin to get red and sore and itchy while other parts of the skin are normal.
  • A lot of babies and young children can get it, but it often gets better as they get older.
  • Adults can get eczema, but they usually are less troubled by eczema. 
  • There are different kinds of eczema that are caused by different things.

What eczema looks like

In babies it looks like a pinkish-red scaly looking patches of rash on their faces, sometimes around their ears, under their chins or on their bodies, arms or legs. The rash can look lumpy and crusty with watery stuff coming out.

As children grow, the eczema usually goes from the face but stays around the hands, inside the elbows and at the back of knees.

Eczema usually gets better and is often gone by the time a person has grown into an adult.

How you get eczema

  • eczemaGenes (not the ones you wear) are part of the picture of why some people get eczema. If people in the family have allergies, their children are more likely to get allergies, asthma or eczema.
  • These children can have sensitive skin which is dry, itchy and upset by things like soap, heat, wool and rough surfaces (like a scratchy feeling material)
  • Some types of eczema are triggered by dry skin being upset by plants, touching animal fur, the chemicals used to clean with, some foods or food additives.
  • Sometimes eczema comes when people are sick with something else, like a cold. The germs seem to cause the skin to be super-sensitive. 
  • Allergens like dust mites, mould, grasses or tobacco smoke.

You cannot catch eczema from someone else. Touching the skin of someone with eczema will not give you eczema or other skin problems.

Whatever causes eczema, the skin feels hot and itchy, and can be sore and weepy, making it difficult to sleep.

What you can do

If your skin feels dry and you have an itchy rash, ask Mum or Dad or whoever looks after you to check with the doctor to find out what it is.

If you have eczema:

  • eczemaWash with sorbolene cream instead of soap (soap can make your skin too dry).
  • Bath or shower only once a day or every other day unless you get really dirty. Pat yourself dry instead of rubbing your skin - rubbing could make it sore.
  • Use sorbolene or a bath oil instead of soap in the bath and only have quick baths.
  • Don't make the bath or shower very hot - heat can cause flare ups too.
  • Use some cream several times a day to make your skin soft and stop it from getting dry. Your doctor or chemist will help you to choose. Sorbolene should be OK for this too, and it is usually much cheaper than other moisturisers.
  • Wear loose clothes made out of cotton so that your skin is not being rubbed by scratchy material.  
  • allergy testBe a detective and help your doctor to find out what is irritating your skin and causing the eczema, by keeping a daily diary.
  • Have an allergy test only if your doctor recommends it.
  • Put some special cream on the sore patches a few times a day if the eczema is bad and your doctor prescribes it.
  • staying coolDon't scratch the itchy skin as this could damage the surface of your skin and let germs in.
  • Stay cool. Hot weather, wearing too many clothes, and being in places that are too warm can make eczema worse.
  • Keep your bed and bedroom clean and free from dust.
  • Be careful about what you eat, and notice if some foods trigger your eczema.
  • The chemicals in swimming pool water can cause flare ups for some people. Avoid pools if this is a problem for you (covering patches with a barrier cream, such as zinc cream, may be a help). Sea water is often not a problem.
  • Don't stress out! Nothing lasts for ever - you will feel better soon.

If you have eczema, you have probably had it since you were a baby so you, your mum and dad and the doctor have probably worked out what triggers your eczema and what works for you to make it feel better.

What some kids say

"I used to have eczema when I was little but now I don't have problems if I don't use soap and always put on my cream to keep my skin soft".  - Emily

"My friend has eczema when it is hot weather. I tell her not to be upset, I am always her friend".  - Taya

"I can only swim in the sea and in salt water pools, but that's OK. I hate the smell of the chemicals they put into other pools anyway".  - Dianna

"It's cool to wear cotton".  - Dean

"Everyone should stop their skin from getting too dry so using my cream is just the same as everyone else trying to keep their skin looking and feeling good".  - Ito

"Be kind to kids who have eczema. OK, it looks yukky sometimes, but you can't catch it, it's really itchy and you shouldn't make people feel bad about things that are not their fault."

Dr Kim says:

Dr Kim"Looking after your skin is very important. We all know about protecting skin from the sun and keeping the skin from getting too dry. There are lots of other things too, which can affect the skin. People who have skin diseases like eczema have to learn what affects their skin and then avoid it if they can. Sometimes even when they do all of the right things they still have bad rashes."

For a lot more information look at the topic Eczema on the Parenting and Child Health part of our website.

Eczema is itchy.
Looks red and sore.
Sometimes just a little,
Other times more.
Keep yourself cool,
Remember your cream.
One day, when you're older
It may seem like a dream.

- BH

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.

 

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