Common Causes & Triggers of Eczema in Infants & Children

Eczema does not appear or act the same way in adults as it does in children. Eczema usually appears anywhere from the first six months to five years of their life. Out of the 7 different types of eczema, atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most prevalent one in children. It is a chronic disorder that starts with the immune system. 

Although AD is the most prevalent, it is most important to find out what type of eczema your child has so that you can treat it treat it the right way. There is currently no cure for eczema and the exact cause of it is also a mystery. Infants and toddlers normally develop the disorder from a combination of their genes and environmental factors. Something outside the body can trigger your immune system causing your cells to go into overdrive and causes your skin to flare up to form rashes, redness and itching. Another common factor that have been known to contribute to eczema, are babies that come from families that have a history of AD, asthma and hay fever. So if your family has a history of any of those 3, children of susceptible of picking up any of the three. 

The appearance of eczema appears like:

First six months - Usually appears on the face, cheeks, chin, forehead and scalp. It can also spread other areas, but not necessarily the diaper area because moisture protects it. The baby’s skin tends to look red or weepy at this time as well.

Six to 12 months - Usually appears on their elbows and knees, which are places that are easy to scratch and where babies crawl. 

Two to Five Years Old - Usually appears often in the creases of elbows and knees and on their wrists, ankles and hands. It can also appear around their mouths and eyelids. Something called lichenification happens to your toddler’s skin where it looks dry and scaly and becomes thick with deeper lines around this time as well.

Five Years and Up - Usually appears in the folds of the elbows and/or knees. Other times it can appear on their hands. If you see redness and itchy patches behind your child’s ears, feet or scalp it can be a sign of AD OR seborrheic dermatitis which can exist with eczema. Confirming with your doctor which one it is helps in seeking the proper treatment.

Baby Triggers:

Dry Skin - can be worse during the winter when the air is dry.

Irritants - saliva from drooling can cause irritation on your baby’s cheeks, chin and neck. Babies can also be triggered by allergens from pets or dust mites, or sensitivities to fabrics, cigarette smoke or chemicals we use on our bodies like perfume, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc. 

Heat & Sweating - Both can make the itch of infant eczema worse.

Infection -  Particularly prone to skin infections. This is in part due to the breaks in the skin from very dry, split skin and from scratching the itchy areas.

Diet - dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts nightshade vegetables (family of vegetales that includes all varieties of peppers and their spices like paprika and chilli), and acidic foods. Trying elimination diet with these food groups can sometimes give an indicator if a child’s diet is causing their eczema flareups. Seek a physician help with this as well to ensure the child is eating properly.

In the next post of this eczema series, we will discuss eczema in adults. Stay tuned…

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