Eczema

How to explain Eczema by Age

Eczema is an autoimmune condition that makes the skin red and itchy. It's common in children, but eczema can occur at any age. The condition is long lasting and flares periodically. It may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever.

Preschoolers

Our skin needs some water inside it and some oil inside it to be healthy and smooth. Sometimes skin can really dry and itchy because there just isn’t the right mix of oil and water.

With eczema this dry very itchy skin can turn pink or red and sometimes it can leak a little bit. There are some foods and activities that can make eczema worse for some kids so sometimes they have to go without them.

It is nobody’s fault that they have eczema. It is just something that happens to some people sometimes.

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School Age

Our skin needs a balance of oil and water to stay healthy and smooth. Our skin makes its own oil and pulls water from our body through water we eat and drink so stay hydrated. Sometimes when our skin doesn’t get enough water or doesn’t make enough oil it can be very dry. This might make it look a little flaky or feel tight or itchy.

Some people’s dry skin is eczema.

Eczema is red or pink skin that looks and feels like an itchy or stingy rash. Some times it “weeps” which means a little fluid leaks out of the skin. It can be so dry that it cracks and bleeds or it can be so itchy that it bleeds after it’s been scratched.

Our skin has a very important job. It protects all of our insides from germs (bacteria and viruses). If our skin is cracked and bleeding (like it can with eczema) then it’s easier for germs to get inside and make us sick.

There are lots of ways to be a good friend to people with eczema.

  1. Wash your hands so that you can help them prevent getting sick. Be kind and understanding when they are feeling so itchy that it’s hard for them to play or concentrate.
  2. Never make fun of how their skin looks. That is unkind and it is not their fault. Eczema is just something that happens to some people sometimes. Sometimes eczema can get better or even completely go away; then it can come back. When eczema is really bad it is called a flair.

Some people have found that if they don’t eat certain foods their eczema goes away. Some activities are really difficult with eczema or can make it worse. A lot of the time wet wraps or putting on lotion/ointment after a long bath can help eczema.

Teenagers

You have probably heard of eczema before, because it is really common! About 10% of people have it in some form or fashion.

There are several different types of eczema and the severity of eczema is different for everyone. Atopic dermatitis (the technical term for eczema)  is caused by a response in the immune system (the system in your body that fights of bacteria and viruses). Either way it is extremely itchy, red, dry skin. Sometimes people call it the itch that rashes, because it can start out as itchy skin and then turns into a red raw patch.

Doctors are still researching exactly why the immune system responds this way in some people but many believe that it has to do with how much exposure to germs and allergens a person gets when they are young.

There is also a genetic component to eczema. So if your parents have it, you might be more likely to have it too.

Treating eczema with appropriate ointments and medicines as prescribed by your dermatologist is very important. This is because skin health impacts the health of your entire body. Eczema can often crack and bleed and these areas are like a breech in the bodies security system. This means that it creates a space for germs to get in, which can cause infections. Sometimes these infections can even be very serious and require hospitalization. That’s why taking care of eczema prone skin is so important.

Our skin is our body's largest organ and it does most of the work from protecting the body from outside elements. In addition to treatments like ointments and creams, sometimes people might require pills or injections to help with their eczema. These medicines can communicate to the immune system that it is overreacting to the environment and needs to stop working against the skin and making it so dry.

One way you can be a good friend to someone dealing with eczema is to be willing to be flexible in your activity plans so that they can either avoid or take care of a flare. For example if you had plans to go to watch a ballgame but it was really hot outside, you could maybe switch to watching the game inside on tv or taking frequent breaks so that your friend can spritz with water and keep their skin cool.

If you have a child with eczema and you are trying to help them formulate an explanation for peers or siblings, we would love to help, using details about their specific diagnosis and experience. Please reach out to us at unite@achildrenshouse.org