How do I handle my toddler’s eczema?

Dear Doctor,

My two-year-old daughter was born with eczema and for the last couple of weeks, it has been unbearable. I’ve visited doctors who gave us medicine but nothing seems to help with the itching. She has wounds on her body as a result from the scratching and it doesn’t look good. I’ve stayed away from anything that could irritate her skin but it is not going away. How long will she be like this? Is there anything you can recommend that will make it better?

Tracy

Dear Tracy,

Eczema usually occurs due to allergy. It mostly runs in families and may be associated with asthma or allergic rhinitis.  In the case of a two-year-old child, it could be due to baby care products used for the child. This could be any product like baby cream powder, among other things. It can be due to nylon clothes, nylon bed sheets, plastic used in the diapers, etcetera.  This causes uncomfortable itching. Any person, including a toddler, could scratch the itchy part and develop secondary infection.

Itching could also be due to fungal infection. A small child can develop fungal infection due to dampness. It also causes uncomfortable itching. A baby exposed to mosquito bites, or bites by any other insect, can also develop itchy eruptions all over the body.

If it is really eczematous dermatitis, avoid any possible allergy producing substance. Avoid using baby care products with chemicals. They can be replaced by products with soft chemicals or herbal products. Avoid using nylon in any form like clothes to be worn or used as bedding. Make her wear cotton clothes always. Mild itching can be relieved by using anti-allergy powders or lotions. For severe itching, anti-allergy syrup can be used.  Ointments containing steroids can be used for local application. But they should be used for limited time only. Long term use of steroids will invariably produce side effects, which are more worrisome in a child.

If there is a fungal infection, it is curable by anti-fungal drugs used regularly for a minimum of four to eight weeks. Avoid keeping the child damp in any way. Keep her clean and dry. Protect the child from mosquito bites.

Dr. Rachna Pande is a specialist in internal medicine. E-mail-rachna212002@yahoo.