Thursday, 10 September 2015
Eczema myths busted
One in five children in the UK have eczema, and there are countless myths surrounding what causes it and what can cure it. Dermatologist Dr Adam Friedmann sorts fact from fiction.
Diet is the reason for my child's eczema
Although a child with a food allergy can be a little sensitive, this is not where eczema stems from.
The exact causes of eczema are unknown. There are many triggers for flare-ups and the key is to find out what these triggers are so that you can control your child's exposure to them.
Only a small number of children, generally under age three, with eczema are helped by changes in diet.
I often have parents come into my clinic who have cut out everything - down to eating bread and drinking water - but cutting food groups can just make their child more unwell.
It is best to have a healthy, balanced diet as this will have a positive effect on the immune system.
Steroids will permanently damage my child's skin
Topical steroids are a valuable tool in the treatment or control of eczema, particularly during a flare-up. They can reduce redness and inflammation and make the skin less itchy and sore, giving it a chance to heal.
Problems arise when steroids are misused - if instructions for the treatment are followed correctly, the skin can recover properly and the eczema will be much easier to manage.
Eczema can be cured
There is no cure for eczema. However, with the right treatment, it can be controlled. The good news is that, for 90 per cent of children with eczema, the condition will become less severe with time.
Stay away from swimming pools
It is important to be careful of chlorine in pools as this can irritate eczema – shower your child before they go into the pool and moisturise them before they get in. Ensure you shower them afterwards and moisturise them well before getting them dressed, too.
Sweating hard during exercise can make the eczema temporarily worse. The key is to be prepared. Reduce the risk of your child's skin getting irritated by moisturising them before and after exercise, ensuring they drink plenty of water and dress them in loose, cotton clothing over synthetics like polyester or Spandex.
Extreme change in temperature can also have an affect on the condition. Avoid hot showers and also stay away from fragranced shower gels or soaps.
Keeping flare-ups at bay
I recommend regularly moisturising to retain the skin's moisture, avoid irritants such as soap, wipes and fragrances and wash with creams such as aqueous cream or dermol.
Also ensure your child gets plenty of sleep; it is a known fact that exhaustion lowers the immune system and make most rashes worse.
For National Eczema Week (September 12-20), sensitive laundry and washing up brand Surcare has teamed up with Dr Adam Friedmann from the Harley Street Dermatology Clinic to bring sufferers expert advice.