Eczema affects up to 20% of children, and is characterized by dry, red, itchy and /or flaky skin. There are a number of causes, but the most common are food allergies, dust mite sensitivity, sweating, drooling and stress. Cows milk and eggs are the most likely foods to precipitate an eczema flair, followed by soy, peanuts and wheat. Typical locations for eczema include the face, trunk, groin and behind the knees and elbows. What can a parent do as first line treatment for mild cases prior to an evaluation by a physician?
It is reasonable to apply topical hydrocortisone 1% cream once or twice a day to the rash for no longer than 7 days. Benedryl every 6 hours can decrease itching, and is especially useful at night to help sleep. Both of these medications can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. If the eczema seems to respond to this regimen, a topical emollient lotion, preferably unscented and without additives, should be applied to the skin at least twice a day, and after bathing or swimming. This restores the skin barrier and helps prevent loss of moisture from the skin.
A visit to the physician is recommended if the regimen above does not work or the diagnosis is in doubt. In more severe cases, prescription medications are the only therapy that will prove effective…Richard R Samuel, MD Family Practice and Urgent Care