What's the best way to clear up a 9-month-old's eczema?
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a very common condition, affecting 10 to 15 percent of children in some fashion. As you know, it produces itchy, red, dry patches on the skin. Although we can successfully treat eczema, nobody yet knows how to cure it. The good news is that the vast majority of children outgrow the condition by school age.
There are a few basic principles of treatment, including:
- daily, short (less than 10 minute) baths, which help to hydrate the skin;
- aggressive application of moisturizers (thick creams, greasy ointments) to the skin, especially following bathing;
- anti-inflammatory ointments, which come in many different types (the aclovate ointment your doctor prescribed is an excellent choice for the face, being both effective and safe; there are stronger ointments that can be used for non-facial areas);
- antihistamines, as needed for itch (there is a vicious "itch scratch cycle" that is part of this disorder);
- antibiotics, which are occasionally needed with secondary infection.
In addition, there are some newer, non-steroid ointments and creams on the market that can be discussed with your doctor, although your son may be too young for their use at this time.
The most important things to understand about atopic dermatitis are: (1) it's a chronic disorder that is naturally prone to waxing and waning, (2) adequate treatment is vital, as the disease can have quite a toll on the patient and the family, and (3) most children eventually outgrow the condition. For more information, contact the National Eczema Association for Science and Education (NEASE) at http://www.nationaleczema.org