It’s sometimes called “the itch that rashes,” because the itching usually comes first. This group of skin rashes is very common in babies and toddlers. Adults can have it too, often as scaly, leathery patches or on their hands. Atopic dermatitis is a common, often inherited form of eczema, but there are other types and many treatments.
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema. Genes likely play a role. An immune system problem could create inflammation in the skin. Emotional problems aren’t a cause, but stress can make symptoms worse.
American Academy of Dermatology: “A new understanding of itch and eczema,” “Eczema/Atopic Dermatitis,” “Seborrheic Dermatitis,” “Is that eczema or an infection on my child’s skin?”
- 7 Tips for Alleviating Eczema
- A Visual Guide to Eczema
- Eczema in Babies
- 7 Types of Eczema: What Do Atopic Dermatitis and Other Eczema Types Look Like
- Is It Cradle Cap?
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- Eczema in Children
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7 Tips for Alleviating Eczema
UpToDate: “Patient education: Eczema (atopic dermatitis) (Beyond the Basics).”
Over-the-counter hydrocortisone or nonsteroidal prescription creams may ease mild to moderate eczema. Ask your doctor before using corticosteroids on children under 2. Don’t use them for more than 7 days. Sometimes, stronger corticosteroids are needed to control inflammation. Side effects, like thinning skin, infections, and stretch marks, are more likely with long-term use. You have to be careful using steroids on the face, especially around the eyes. For severe eczema, your doctor may recommend steroid shots or pills, or biological injections.
“Cradle cap” in babies is a condition that doctors call seborrheic eczema or seborrheic dermatitis. It appears as oily, scaly patches on the scalp. In contrast, atopic dermatitis is more often found on the cheeks, though it can also affect the scalp. Also unlike eczema, cradle cap typically isn’t itchy. Usually cradle cap clears up without treatment in a few weeks or months.
A Visual Guide to Eczema
Infants who are 6-12 weeks old can get atopic dermatitis as a patchy facial rash. Moisture from drooling makes it worse. In some cases, the condition goes away by age 2. But about half of people who had atopic dermatitis as a child will have it as an adult.
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Eczema in Babies
Some research shows that coconut oil, sunflower oil, and vitamin B12 skin creams may help. So can massage and other things that lower your stress level, since stress can make eczema worse. Herbs and supplements can have side effects, so talk to your doctor first.
22) Dr P. Marazzi / Science Source
7 Types of Eczema: What Do Atopic Dermatitis and Other Eczema Types Look Like
Itching is the main one. Scratching makes your skin inflamed and itchier, and it can look different. You may notice:
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Is It Cradle Cap?
These can look a lot alike. You’ll want to make sure that it really is eczema, and not an infection. Tell your doctor about symptoms of an infection, such as honey-colored crusts, pus- or fluid-filled blisters, scaly patches, swelling, or a fever.
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Kids can get eczema in a lot of different places: the inside of their elbows, behind the knees, on the face, on the back of their necks, or on wrists and forearms. You can’t “catch” eczema — it’s not contagious.
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Eczema in Children
Even when the eczema eases up, your skin may still be dry. Take short daily baths in warm water. Pat your skin partially dry and use a thick moisturizer, as well as any medication, right after your bath. Moisturize throughout the day and stick to mild soaps or cleansers. Look for fragrance-free products to help prevent a reaction. Remember, “unscented” may just mean the product has another ingredient to mask the scent.
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