When our children have a skin condition such as eczema, it’s natural to wonder what to expect. Will the disorder go away on its own? If not, what kind of treatment is required? How long will it take? These are all common questions among parents of children with eczema. Let’s take a look at the answers and what to expect going forward.
Also known as ectopic dermatitis, eczema is an inflammatory skin condition affecting many people throughout the world. An immune system reaction to various substances, such as allergens or chemicals, may be the cause. The rash created by eczema can be red, itchy, dry, scaly, cracked, or painful.
For some people, eczema will be a chronic condition, with individual flare-ups lasting a few weeks with treatment. For others, eczema will only temporarily be a problem, as many people with this condition eventually “outgrow” it. It’s hard to predict the course an individual’s eczema will take. One particular flare-up won’t last forever, but the person may continue to be at risk for outbreaks when they encounter their triggers.
Unfortunately, a rash caused by eczema will not simply go away if left untreated. For most people, this is a chronic condition that requires consistent avoidance of triggers. For more information, check out our article "Is Eczema Contagious". However, the majority of sufferers develop the ailment as infants and often experience improvements with age.
We can break eczema down into three stages:
- Chronic eczema - The most common stage, chronic eczema, often develops in children before they reach 12 months of age. It typically lasts a lifetime with periodic flare-ups, although symptoms often improve as the person grows older.
- Acute eczema - May be the result of a person with sensitive skin coming into contact with an irritating chemical, allergen, or other triggers. Flare-ups tend to last a few weeks or so.
- Subacute eczema - This is a part of the healing phase of a flare-up. At this point, the rash can still deteriorate into a full-fledged outbreak if left untreated.
The best treatments depend on our underlying triggers. If we can pinpoint what they are, treatment is more likely to be successful. We should always consult a doctor before taking any medication, prescription or otherwise. Doctors may recommend treatment such as:
- Prescription Medications - Depending on a person’s eczema triggers, they may need to take topical corticosteroid creams, oral allergy medications, or immunosuppressant drugs.
- Over-the-Counter Antihistamines - May help decrease the frequency or severity of flare-ups. These medications can also help with itching and reduce the urge to scratch, especially helpful in children.
- Allergy Shots - For people with severe allergies who haven’t responded well to other medications, doctors may recommend allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy. These shots deliver minuscule amounts of the substance to which the person is allergic, gradually helping them to build immunity and, hopefully, reduce flare-ups.
- At-Home Treatments - Besides keeping the skin moisturized, we can also help reduce symptoms by using skincare products specially designed to help clean away bacteria and other eczema triggers in order to shorten the duration of a flare-up.
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