The true and false facts of Eczema

By Mustela

These are the true and false facts of Eczema. Eczema-prone skin affects one in five children on average worldwide. It is the most widely spread skin disease among children. Moreover, this number keeps increasing. It is said that in industrialized countries, the percentage of people affected with eczema-prone skin has tripled in 30 years2. Don’t worry then: if your baby is affected, it’s not unusual and they are not the only one.

My child has eczema-prone skin so has a bigger risk of developing staphylococcus aureus or impetigo.

FALSE. It’s a fear more than a reality. Indeed, when you look at the oozing patches, we do wonder if there is a superinfection. Nevertheless there is a presence of staphylococcus in the skin – for all skin types – and it is totally normal. These bacteria are part of our skin’s natural flora. They are more concentrated during inflammation which is why skin indicates higher levels at this particular moment. Fortunately, their presence doesn’t necessarily trigger an infection. It can happen, but if eczema flare-ups are properly managed, it is quite rare. Impetigo is not found more often on eczema-prone skin.

Eczema-prone skin is an allergic condition.

TRUE. This means that it is due to an overreaction of the immune system in the presence of allergens such as mites. It is not due to a lack of hygiene and it is not contagious.

Eczema-prone skin is hereditary.

TRUE in most cases. About 70% of children affected by eczema-prone skin have in their family a person who also had a history of eczema. It is scientifically proven that if one parent is affected, the child has 40 to 50% probability of having too; and if both parents are concerned, this probability can go up to 80%3.

And what does happen if there is no family history? Eczema-prone skin manifestations are linked to several genes. You may have it and it may be hereditary, but anybody may potentially be affected.

Eczema-prone skin is contagious.

FALSE. It is many things: allergic, genetic, and hereditary (sometimes), but not contagious. Even in cases of flare-ups and inflammation.

Eczema-prone skin is for life.

NOT NECESSARILY. In any case, not with the same intensity. If eczema-prone skin appears very early - from the first months after birth -, it often diminishes around five or six years old and is quite rare among adults. It can even disappear entirely. It all depends on your child’s sensitivity. However, thanks to the application of baby/child specific emollient skincare products and the adoption of some simple habits at home or during your child’s activities, you can extend the periods of relief. 

Eczema-prone skin can cause other allergies.

FALSE. Your child can have other allergies but only because they are atopic. Eczema is one manifestation of atopia. Other allergies that this sensitivity can cause are asthma, hay fever, and conjunctivitis or food intolerance. In all these cases, it is the same mechanics: the immune system, very sensitive, overreacts in the presence of allergens, such as dust, pollen or mites

In conclusion, your child can have several allergies but his immune system is to blame, not his eczema-prone skin.

There are some simple tips that will reduce itching and the intensity of eczema flare-ups.

TRUE, and they are many. Starting with baby/child specific emollient skincare products and followed by daily precautions such as using cotton clothes, ventilating your home, avoiding letting your child sweat, and so on. Simple tips mostly that can extend the periods of relief and offer your baby a better quality of life even they can’t entirely prevent flare-ups.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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