Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition characterized by dry, itchy and red rashes that typically appear on the skin folds of the back of the knees, neck, crease of the elbow and eyelids. While it is commonly known as “asthma of the skin,” the more medically accurate name for it is “atopic dermatitis.” This disease affects 10-20% of children and 1-3% of adults worldwide.
However, despite it being a fairly common skin condition, the average person’s knowledge of it comprises mostly of myths and old wives tales. For example, many Filipinos believe that it is caused by poor hygiene or that it is contagious. Others also believe that eczema is merely a problem of the skin and that children eventually outgrow it as they mature.
Fortunately and unfortunately, most of these myths are not true. The true cause of eczema is unknown, but it is certainly not caused by poor hygiene. Eczema is linked to a hyperresponsive immune system. It is also not contagious. Moreover, the effects of eczema go beyond physical discomfort, causing emotional and psychological distress upon those who have it. And unfortunately, you don’t necessarily outgrow it….but the good news is that it can be managed.
How can a mother know if her child has eczema? The symptoms of eczema are itchy, inflamed, red, dry, and scaly rashes that become thick and leathery with constant scratching. These itchy rashes usually appear on the skin folds. Individuals with eczema have very dry skin and have a personal or family history of other allergic diseases or asthma.
The effects of eczema are much more than skin deep. Its effects go beyond physical discomfort and affect the different aspects of a child’s life. For example, the itchiness may cause a child to have trouble sleeping through the night, which may result to daytime sleepiness and poor concentration in school. Moreover, a child’s physical appearance may also invite teasing, name-calling, and bullying from peers which can lead to poor self-esteem, a lack of confidence, as well as social isolation. Individuals with eczema have been found to have an increased risk of depression.
Given all this, what is a desperate mother to do if she thinks her child as eczema? The first step is always to get a diagnosis from a pediatrician, dermatologist, or general practitioner. While there are many home remedies suggested by well meaning friends and relatives, such as the use of Virgin Coconut Oil and lotion, they might be effective for moisturizing the skin but may not be able to treat eczema rashes adequately. Thus, knowing what is potentially at stake, the best option for any mother is to get sound medical advice.
During the diagnosis, the doctor simply looks at the skin and asks questions. If your child is confirmed by the doctor to have eczema, all hope is not lost. There are ways to manage this skin condition, and one effective way is to use a topical corticosteroid , the first-line treatment for eczema.
Mometasone furoate (Elica) is a topical corticosteroid that can be easily purchased over the counter. It is well-tolerated because it is mild, and is applied to rashes only once a day. As a disease with effects beyond being a physical nuisance, controlling your child’s eczema will ease his discomfort will spare him feelings of insecurity and embarrassment. And any desperate mother will certainly find peace in that.