Before you dump big bucks into trying to figure out which moisturizer soothes the pain away, get schooled in eczema 101 and discover affordable, mom-approved salves for dry skin in kids.
Also known as atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema in its most common form, "eczema in children is an inflammatory immune response which creates red, dry, scaly, itchy skin," explains Dr. Lawrence Samuels, chief of dermatology at St. Luke's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. And, while 10 to 20 percent of infants and three percent of adults and children in the U.S. are affected by eczema, according to WebMD, most infants outgrow the condition by the time they are 10 years old. This ultra-dry skin condition can appear anywhere on your child's body, but infants are most commonly affected on their face and scalp, while older kids frequently experience it on the face or behind the knees, hands, feet or wrists. You can spot the affected areas by a very dry, thickened appearance that can even change your child's skin's pigmentation, sometimes accompanied by oozing and crusting.
The good news is that this medical condition can be controlled with proper treatment.
It's frustrating to watch your youngster suffer from eczema, especially knowing that doctors aren't exactly sure what causes this severe form of dry skin in kids. But it's believed that your child's immune system is over actively responding to irritants and eczema is usually found in families with a history of allergies or asthma. Here are a few tips to help your child avoid flare-ups.
Sadly there is no cure for eczema at any age, but the good news is the condition isn't contagious. Your child's pediatrician can prescribe a medicated ointment to help manage flare-ups, but there are a few tried-and-true over-the-counter moisturizers moms love.
Suspect your child's itchiness is eczema? Then it's important to seek the advice of your pediatrician. "Controlling the itch prevents scratching, which damages the epidermis and can create sores which can become secondarily infected," explains Dr. Samuels, so hydrating your child's skin ASAP is key. Moms swear by these over-the-counter ointments, lotions and moisturizers to treat dry skin in kids.
Packed with humectants, emollients and occlusive agents that don't block pores, the long-lasting moisturizing quality of this over-the-counter cream makes it a favorite with moms and pediatricians like mine. Also available in lighter formulas, but for eczema-prone skin, this one was recommended by our pediatrician and seems to work the best with my kiddos.
Clinically proven to provide instant relief that lasts, the oatmeal, Ceramide-3 and Licochalcone-infused formula targets eczema flare-ups in a moisturizer specifically crafted for little sufferers. "I have a daughter age 13 with severe eczema. I use a few over-the-counter moisturizers, including Eucerin. It's really great when I don't want to use the steroids on her," shares Zenobia Dewely of zenobiasweettooth.com.
With a complete line of eczema-targeting moisturizers, oils, washes and shampoos made just for kids and babies, these products boast all the things they don't contain, from lanolin to phthalates. For Serena, blogger at Momtrends.com, Exederm tops her list of over-the-counter lotions for her brood. "For my daughter with eczema, I love Exederm. This gentle formula has no fragrance, color or dyes, parabens, lanolin, formaldehyde and other known skin irritants." Ideal for children of all ages, Exederm also bears the National Eczema Association 'Seal of Acceptance' with a score of 5 out of 5.
Aquaphor makes a baby line of over-the-counter ointments, washes and shampoos that offer gentle soothing, care and relief for your baby's cracked or raw skin. "My 18-month-old has bad eczema. We're huge fans of Aquaphor for him — we've tried a number of products and Aquaphor works best," shares Heather Serignese, of Glastonbury, Connecticut. "His pediatrician also recommended lathering him up with the Aquaphor while he's in the tub — it makes him very slippery but helps seal in the moisture." The fragrance-free, non-irritating product is also recommended for soothing drool rash and diaper rash.
Before you choose any treatment for dry skin in kids, be sure to consult with your pediatrician about your child's skin condition. While this information is not meant to replace professional medical advice, these over-the-counter ointments and lotions could help give your youngster relief in the moment.
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