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Eczema advice

What is eczema?

Eczema (dermatitis) is a common condition in children which causes their skin to be dry, itchy or sore. Eczema can make the skin look a different colour. So it may cause lighter skin to look red and darker skins to look purple, grey or a darker brown.

Eczema can happen anywhere on the skin but is more common on the inside of the arms, backs of the knees, hands, faces or scalps in children.

It can be hard work looking after a child with eczema, but with your help the condition can be kept under control and symptoms, such as scratching, can be relieved.

Eczema can come and go and if your child has a ‘flare-up’ of their eczema when it is worse than usual then you may need to seek advice from NHS 111 or your GP.

What treatments should I use?

A moisturiser (also known as an emollient cream) is the best treatment to use to treat the dryness and to help reduce itch. Examples of moisturisers prescribed are Oilatum, Diprobase or Epaderm but there are others available. Sometimes a few need to be tried to find the one that works best for your child’s skin.

How do I use the treatment?

The best way to use the treatment is by:

  • using lots of moisturiser all over the body
  • apply 3 to 4 times a day if needed
  • apply the cream with long downward strokes
  • never rub as this can start the itch-scratch cycle again

It might take a few days for the treatment to start to calm your child’s skin. Some creams may also sting a little when applied to very irritated skin. This is not usually an allergy and should fade with a few applications.

Watch this short YouTube video on using moisturisers.

What bath oils can I use?

Your child needs a long soak in a warm bath every night. You can use oils when bathing your child. Add a capful of oil to the running water while filling the bath.

Use soap substitute and shampoo as recommended by the hospital.

Use a fresh, clean towel and pat your child dry.

Does my child need a steroid cream?

If your child’s skin gets worse, particularly if it’s sore and inflamed then a steroid cream might be prescribed. Steroids are used for a shorter time and come in different strengths.

Steroid creams should be put on in a thin layer on areas of affected skin only, not on normal skin.

After applying the steroid cream you need to wait half an hour before applying moisturiser.

Does my child need antibiotics?

Sometimes the skin can get infected. This may be the case if skin becomes painful, red or inflamed all over or if there are blisters or white or yellow pus.

Your child may also seem unwell or have a high temperature.

Seek help by calling NHS 111, seeing your GP or if your child seems seriously unwell take them to the Emergency Department (A&E).

If there are signs of infection then they may be prescribed antibiotic treatment or a treatment for the cold sore virus (herpes). Sometimes children need to stay in hospital for treatment but this is unusual.

What if my child’s skin isn’t getting better?

If theIR skin is not improving then please see your doctor again or seek help by calling NHS 111.

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Disclaimer

Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

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NHS

Western Bank
Sheffield
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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