Eczema, or allergic dermatitis, is an extremely common problem in General Practice. I had at least two patients come to see me about it on the day that I write this. Eczema can affect all ages and can vary markedly in its extent and in its severity. However extensive or severe, the principles for eczema treatment are the same. I have created videos that answer the most common questions that I am asked about eczema. They will hopefully give you some insight into the causes and treatments for this condition.

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How important is moisturizing in the treatment of eczema?

Almost always the treatment should start with regular moisturising of the skin. Keeping the skin moist will help it stop cracking, which means that you have less damage to the protective layers, which limits your exposure to allergens and flaring of the allergic aspect of eczema as a result. It will also help keep an essential barrier against bacteria intact, reducing the chances of the eczema getting infected. Moisturising of the skin is especially important in the treatment of eczema in children due to their relatively delicate skin. Moisturising the skin as often as six to eight times a day may be required and this is certainly preferable to less applications and the use of steroid creams.

How do I manage my child’s eczema?

Eczema in children is very common with as many as twenty percent of children likely to be affected at some point. Dependent on the age of your child, the rash may present in different areas but classically it will be red and dry. Moisturisers need to be applied regularly and moisturising bath oils and washes can also help. If your child’s skin doesn’t settle it may be that your Doctor prescribes a steroid cream. It is likely to be Hydrocortisone in the first instance. Steroid creams can be extremely useful in short doses to control the inflammation and settle the itch that is likely to see your child scratch. Along with steroid treatment it is important that you do all that you can to distract your child so that they scratch as little as possible. Antihistamines can also be useful in stopping the scratching. Scratching can break the skin and increase the chances of infection. Antiseptic creams may come in handy to reduce the risk of this. Keep you child’s nails short in order to minimise the trauma caused by the scratching.