Leading Sydney paediatric dermatologist Dr Li-Chuen Wong shares tips on treating skin conditions and eczema in babies and young children.
It is estimated that up to 20% of children suffer from eczema. Eczema usually reveals its troublesome self within the first five years of life. The good news is that the majority of those affected will improve by the time they become teenagers. However, some have ongoing skin sensitivity and may experience eczema outbreaks even as adults.
Signs that a baby has eczema may include red, scaly, oozing or crusted patches of inflamed skin, often found in the skin creases (such as inside the elbows and behind the knees), but eczema may present anywhere. Due to the intense itching, babies with eczema may be unsettled, restless and have broken sleep.
Eczema sufferers usually lack key components of the normal skin barrier, meaning their skin barrier can become disrupted which results in dry skin and the formation of cracks and fissures. These cracks allow irritants, allergens and micro-organisms to penetrate deep into the skin. This can result in inflammation, triggering itching and scratching, and may lead to infection.
Although there is no cure for eczema, the emphasis is on control and this can be accomplished through the following: