At present, eczema can not be cured, but it can usually be managed so that your child can play and live comfortably. The condition is often “outgrown” though not by age 2-3 as is often thought. Statistics suggest that approximately 50% of children will completely lose their eczema, and 40% will have only minor, localized or occasional skin lesions. The remaining 10%, however, will continue to have a major problem with eczema in adulthood.
The location of the rash on your child may change with age. In infants it is located mostly on the face, abdomen, and parts of the arms and legs where the baby rubs on the bed. By childhood, typical problem areas are wrists, hands, feet, ankles and creases of knees and elbows. In adolescents and adults who have eczema, it is often found in creases at knees/elbows, around the eyes and on the hands and feet.
How do we treat eczema?
The most important thing you can do is to carry out daily, regular skin care consisting of soaks and creams. Though the traditional skin care methods have encouraged minimal use of bathing, the dry skin of eczema seems to moisten more readily if actually soaked in water. This is done in the form of long soaking baths–30 minutes or more–taken 1-3 times a day. (Such baths will also reduce the amount of infection on the skin.)
Water temperature should be only warm; too hot will cause increased itching. If you feel soap is necessary, use a mild, nondrying one like Unscented Dove, Basis, Cetaphil or Neutrogena, on the hands, feet and groin area and use it at the end of soak time. The child must soak the entire body; lying down in the tub, draping a wet towel over the shoulders, and frequent wetting of the face are all helpful.
In more severe cases, adding a ½ cup of bleach to the bath water will help eliminate unwanted bacteria on the skin. Reduce baths to once a day when clear. Of course, close supervision of the young child is necessary in this deeper water. Bath toys and games are useful. Record players, tape players and radios also help pass the time. In order to prevent electrical hazard, these must be placed where they cannot be reached by your child.