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Health Information For Kids
Your skin is red and sore. It may even look scaly. You itch like crazy. You know you haven’t been near poison ivy and you don’t have chickenpox, so what’s going on? It might be eczema.
Eczema (say: EK-zeh-ma) makes your skin dry, red, and itchy. Sometimes you may even break out in a rash. It’s a chronic (say: KRAH-nik) condition, which means that it comes and goes, but it can be with you for a long time.
If you have eczema, you’re not alone. Lots of kids get it, usually before they’re 5 years old, but you can get it when you’re older too. The good news is that more than half of the kids who have eczema today will be over it by the time they’re teenagers.
Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis (say: ay-TOP-ik der-muh-TIE-tis).
Skin has special cells that react when they come in contact with anything that irritates them. They make the skin inflamed to protect it. If you have eczema, these cells overreact when something triggers them and they start to work overtime. That’s what makes your skin red, sore, and itchy.
No one is really sure why people get eczema. It’s not contagious — no one can catch it from you and you can’t catch it from anyone else. Kids who get eczema often have family members with hay fever (it makes them sneeze and have a runny nose), asthma (trouble breathing), or other things known as “atopic” conditions.
More than half of the kids who get eczema will also someday develop hay fever or asthma themselves. Eczema is not an allergy itself, but allergies can be a trigger for eczema. That means that if you have allergies to things like dust or animal dander, your eczema may flare up sometimes.
Aside from allergies, some things that can set off eczema include:
If you have eczema, the rash may go away at first. But then it comes back again and again.
Not all rashes itch. But eczema is itchy, itchy, itchy! It often starts in the folds inside your elbows and on the back of your knees. It can also be on your face and other parts of your body. Many things besides eczema can cause a rash. That’s why your doctor is the best person to see to figure out what’s causing your rash.
You may need a moisturizer (ointment or cream) to control the dryness and itchiness. Some people need stronger medicines called corticosteroids. Steroid ointment or cream rubbed on skin can help calm the inflammation (when skin is red and swollen).
Your doctor might suggest you try an antihistamine, a medicine that’s either a pill to swallow or a liquid. It can help control the itching and help you sleep at night. If all that scratching leads to an infection, you may need an antibiotic. None of these eczema medicines will cure you forever, but they can help make your skin more comfortable and less red.
Here are some other important steps to take:
During an allergic reaction, your body’s immune system goes into overdrive. Find out more in this article for kids.
Poison ivy can give you a nasty rash. Find out more about it – and the other plants that can make you itch – in this article for kids.
Learn about rashes in a flash. Check out our article just for kids!
Impetigo is a strange-sounding word that might be new to you. It’s an infection of the skin caused by bacteria. Read this article to learn more about it.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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