The first few years of life are a critical period in a child’s development, during which they are particularly susceptible to infections and inflammation in general, especially of the skin. These days, eczema in infants and young children is one of the most common conditions to cause concern among parents and raise a whole host of questions.
1- What is infant and young child eczema?
Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammation of the skin that manifests itself in flare-ups interspersed with periods of remission, and generally disappears between the ages of four and six. This disease develops in a predisposed family: in 80% of cases, the parents are carriers of eczema, hay fever or asthma and the brothers or sisters are allergic.
2- How does eczema manifest itself in babies?
Essentially, the skin becomes vulnerable to the slightest external aggression (heat, sweat, house dust, animal hair, stress, etc.) and takes on a dry, rough, reddish appearance. However, the symptoms can easily be confused with another skin condition, and their location varies depending on the child’s age.
A- IN INFANTS
Eczema manifests itself as irregular red patches on the scalp, chest, chin, cheeks, folds of the neck and joints (elbows, knees, wrists, etc.), causing an itchy sensation. As a result, babies who are unable to scratch themselves feel irritable, which interferes with their sleep.
B- IN YOUNG CHILDREN
Small vesicles appear, mainly on the arms and legs. Yellowish crusty lesions appear when the eczema becomes infected.
3- How is eczema treated in infants and young children?
A- PRESCRIPTION BY THE DOCTOR
– Prescription of corticosteroid-based ointments or creams in varying doses, depending on the severity of the child’s eczema, his/her age and the location of the eczema.
– Prescription of anti-inflammatories such as immunodilators in cream form.
– Prescription of antihistamines in the event of itching.
– Prescription of antibiotics in the event of eczema infection.
B- DAILY CARE AND ADVICE
– Apply cool water-soaked compresses daily to relieve itching.
– Give the baby a daily bath or, at best, a warm water shower, preferably with a soap-free gel that lasts less than 10 minutes, to moisturise the skin.
– Dab the skin gently with a towel after the bath without rubbing rigorously.
– Immediately after the bath, apply a corticosteroid-based cream to the red areas and a moisturising cream to the rest of the body.
– Dress your child in white cotton clothing and avoid synthetic fabrics (wool, polyester, etc.).
– Keep baby’s fingernails short to prevent scratching.
– Keep your baby away from aggressive agents (heat, dust mites, pets, stress, etc.).