Up to 1 in 4 children have eczema, while psoriasis and other dry skin conditions are also increasing. Concurrently, it is getting harder to see a GP and this is particularly the case for parents with busy schedules. Read on for our 'School in Skincare' lessons that can help you manage these conditions in your children
Lesson 1. Diagnosis
Dry skin may seem obvious, but the difference between eczema and psoriasis can be subtle and important for identifying how they are treated.
Eczema (“Ex-ma”) is commonly found on the face and neck of very young children, and on the inside of elbows and backs of knees of older children. The classic appearance of eczema is itchy, hot, red patches of skin.
Psoriasis (“Soh-rye-asis”) is less usual, yet still affects up to 2% of children. Frequently mistaken for eczema, psoriasis is more commonly found on the outside of elbows, the front of the knees, scalp, and lower back. Like eczema, red patches appear, but they are rarely itchy, and often covered in fine silvery or yellow scales.
There are different subgroups of eczema and psoriasis which can confuse symptoms further and there’s no substitute for seeing a healthcare professional like a GP or Dermatologist.
Lesson 2. Treatment
Unfortunately, there isn’t a fixed cure for these conditions, and many persist into adulthood. Treatment focuses around managing symptoms until the disappear, and ideally, stay gone.
The cornerstone of dry skin treatment is an emollient. These differ from skin moisturisers that you may use, as they have a very high oil content. The oil forms a protective barrier, allowing your child’s skin to rehydrate and renew itself from within. Some of them also contain natural moisturising ingredients like urea and glycerine, but the main thing is this barrier function.
Both eczema and psoriasis can “flare up” and go away repeatedly, so there are three rules to maintain your child’s skin barrier with emollients:
- Apply heavily
- Apply regularly
- Apply even when it’s not visible
Other treatments like steroids are available, but are only recommended with a healthcare professional’s consultation, and always alongside emollients.
See Also: Resolving Dry Skin Conditions
Lesson 3. Ongoing Management
Dry skin conditions are complex and individual. What works for one child might not for another, e.g. some find a little sun exposure (with sunscreen) helps, while others find the heat makes itching so much worse.
A recent study showed 60% of parents saw their child's eczema improve, if they tracked triggers and resulting skin condition over time.
Epaderm have therefore developed the Eczema Tracker (free from http://www.epaderm.com/eczematracker) to allow the potential triggers and potential solutions to be recorded, and enable you to build your own picture of the best routine. The following table isn’t a definitive list, albeit can help you get started.
It’s important for you and your child to find the right routine, and completely normal not to get everything perfect first time but keep trying, and you will get there!
See also: Your 4 Step Anti-egeing Skincare Routine