Over the past decade, the rates of diagnosis for eczema in children have skyrocketed. Some estimates put the percentage of people who suffer from this condition at some point in their lives at one in ten or higher. Young children are more likely than adults to experience this skin irritation. Most kids outgrow the condition while others will go on to experience lifelong, chronic eczema. The hyper-sensitivity that causes this recurrent rash appears to be linked in some ways to allergies and asthma – two other health conditions that are on the rise.
No Clear Cause for Eczema Epidemic
Medical researchers are still looking for specific causes for this upsurge in eczema cases. Irritating substances found in soaps and modern hygiene habits like daily bathing are under consideration as potential culprits that tend to dry out delicate skin. At this time, it appears that heredity and environmental factors both play a role in the development of eczema in children. Although specific allergens are occasionally identified as causing symptoms, the condition often seems to flare up for no reason. With so many kids suffering from this uncomfortable and embarrassing rash, effective and safe treatments are more essential than ever.
Traditional Steroids Still Popular
Steroids continue to be one of the first lines of defense in the battle against mild to severe childhood eczema symptoms. When topical corticosteroids are prescribed by a dermatologist and applied as directed, they are generally considered safe for use in treating child eczema. However, one of the many potential side effects of steroid use is, ironically, skin rash and irritation. This may limit the length of time that these topical treatments can be effectively used. Some pediatric patients simply don’t respond well to steroids even in low doses. Because of this, other drugs have been developed that don’t rely on steroids to reduce symptoms.
Newer Steroid-Free Topical Treatments
There are two types of non-steroidal eczema medications that the FDA has approved since 2000. They are marketed under the names Elidel and Protopic. These drugs are in the calcineurin inhibitor family (like cyclosporine). They are “immunomodulators” that work by suppressing the inflammatory response that causes eczema break outs. These drugs do not have the same types of side effects commonly associated with steroids. However, the use of steroid-free topical ointments carries its own risks. These medications are not recommended for treating eczema in children under the age of 2 years. Only low dosages are generally prescribed for children under the age of 16. Kids of all ages should be protected from sun exposure during treatment with these medications.
Non-Drug Based Treatment
One of the most recent developments in child eczema treatment is the use of diluted bleach baths. This type of therapy is being investigated for its ability to relieve rash symptoms and to help combat eczema-related staph infections. This type of treatment should only be performed on the advice of a pediatrician or dermatologist to ensure that it is done correctly.