Top 8 Questions About Eczema

Robert Winkler Robert Winkler

Eczema can be very annoying and frustrating for children and parents. And there are so many questions around it. Here are some answers.

1) What exactly is eczema

Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin disease. The skin is red and irritated and sometimes has bumps that can become moist. It is usually very itchy, which prompts scratching and that makes the problem even worse. The skin is also typically very dry. Children have bumps on their forehead, scalp, arms and behind the knees . The rash can spread to all parts of the body. It also comes and goes in waves. The term “atopic” derives from the Greek word “atopos” -meaning the child is overly sensitive to allergens from the environment (such as pollen) or from food allergens.

2) How frequent is eczema

Around 7% of adults get eczema, but around 12-15% of children get eczema. Typically symptoms appear during the first months of life, but some children get it when they are older. Some adolescents get eczema too, and sometimes the eczema “disappears” around puberty but comes back later in life.

3) What is the connection from eczema to other allergic diseases?

It is important to know that eczema is not an allergy itself. However, allergies can trigger it. Around 40-50% of children with eczema will develop hayfever or asthma later in life. That`s really why you should see a specialist early rather than later! The younger the children are, the more frequent food allergies play an important role.

4) What is the cause of eczema

Much paper has been written about that! Genetics plays a key role. This means that genes are passed on from generation to generation and make it more likely that your child has eczema. It is usually not one factor that is causing eczema. In eczema one of the main problems is a skin barrier dysfunction.

It is important to identify the individual triggers in each child and this can be very challenging. What triggers eczema in one child, might have no influence at all in another one. We are still learning new and exciting stuff every day!

5) Is there a treatment for eczema

Yes there is!

The problem is there isn`t a “one fits all” -solution. The key is to find the individual risk factors- in order to avoid them if possible. One way to do this is to perform specific allergy tests.The allergy tests performed are a Skin Prick test, a blood test (RAST) and sometimesa so called PATCH Test.

It needs a lot of experience to determine which tests make sense at what age.

As the dry skin is one of the main problems, emollients are an important pillar of treatment. Again- there isn`t one cream for all.

6) Are steroids really needed?

Steroids have a really bad reputation. In some cases they are certainly needed to take the edge off the acute phase. The key point is: there are many many different types of steroids - mild ones, moderate ones and very potent ones which we try to avoid in children. In most cases the steroids are only needed in the acute phases – the crucial part is to find the right “maintenance” treatment (without any steroids at all) to prevent the child from having flare-ups.

7) What is the relationship between eczema and food allergies

Arounds 50% of children have a “true” food allergy. Most parents are surprised to learn that the vast majority of children with eczema only have one or two “problem” foods. The interpretation of allergy tests for food can be particularly challenging and should be done by a Specialist. Most children-but not all- outgrow their food allergies and will also “loose” their eczema when they become a bit older. A lot of "eczema " diets are unnecessary and further complicate your child`s (and your) life. Diets can have a huge impact on your child` s life -and cause more bad than good too.

8) Is there a natural treatment for eczema?

Absolutely! In fact there are so many different -old and new- natural treatments that we will dedicate a whole new blog just on alternative treatment.Coming up soon! The Team at Childrensonlineclinic believes in a holistic approach – which also means to find the best individualized treatment for each child.