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Childhood Eczema Causes and Home Remedies

Medically reviewed by Elfred Landas, MD · General Practitioner · Maxicare Primary Care Center

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 15, 2021

Childhood Eczema Causes and Home Remedies

Reports say that eczema often shows up before the age of 5; in fact, The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology stated that 60% of cases develop symptoms by the age of 1, while 30% will experience it by the age of 5. What are the causes of childhood eczema, and how can parents treat it at home?

What is Eczema?

Eczema is the term given for a group of non-contagious conditions that cause skin redness, itchiness, and inflammation. The itch and inflammation can get so uncomfortable that children have difficulty sleeping. In some cases, the skin also appears scaly.

Eczema: Type of Dermatitis

There are several kinds of eczema, including atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, and contact dermatitis. Please note that many people use eczema and atopic dermatitis interchangeably; that’s because atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema.

What Does Eczema Look Like?

How eczema looks can differ from one child to another. Sometimes, the rashes appear all over the body; in some cases there’s only one area affected. In babies, it usually starts in the head and face. For young children, rashes could develop in the back of the knee, elbow crease, or around the eyes.

Additionally, please note that people experience exacerbation periods (flare-ups) when the rashes worsen and remissions when they get better. This is why it’s crucial to identify what can trigger flare-ups.

Causes of Eczema in Children

Now that we have a better idea of eczema as a skin condition, let’s talk about its causes.

Doctors still do not know what causes childhood eczema; however, they suspect that it’s a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors. For instance, a child may develop eczema because their immune system reacts differently to specific things.

In some cases, allergies are involved. Case in point, allergic contact dermatitis occurs because our immune system reacts to a substance, causing the rashes to appear.

Common Eczema Triggers

Since the cause is not yet known, the best that parents can do is identify the triggers. This is so they can reduce (if not totally eliminate) their child’s exposure to it. The most common triggers in children are:

  • Factors that lead to skin dryness, like dry, cold air.
  • Irritating substances, such as soaps and shampoo with strong chemicals.
  • Irritating fabrics such as wool
  • Heat and sweating
  • Allergens (food, dust mite, pollen, etc.)
  • Infections

childhood eczema causes

How to Treat Childhood Eczema

After learning about potential childhood eczema causes, it’s time to discuss treatment.

Dealing with dryness

Dryness makes the skin vulnerable to infections and irritation. To deal with skin dryness, consider the tips below:

  • Bathe your child in lukewarm water. Don’t use harsh bath products; instead, go for the fragrance-free, hypoallergenic ones. Finally, don’t rub the affected area.
  • Pat your child’s skin dry. If the doctor gave them treatment cream or ointment, apply it before applying moisturizer.
  • Apply thick moisturizer after bathing when the skin is still damp. This helps lock in moisture. You can ask the pediatrician or dermatologist for a good moisturizer.
  • Dress your little one in clothes made of cotton. Avoid possibly irritating fabrics such as wool.

Dealing with itchiness

One important step on how to treat childhood eczema is avoiding scratching as it worsens the rashes and even increases infection risk. Cut your child’s fingernails short and remind them to pat the skin with clean hands if it’s itchy.

If you consult the doctor, they will most likely give anti-itch cream for your child. They may prescribe antihistamines to help in itching, which can also be useful in inducing drowsiness in times when itchiness makes it hard to sleep.

Tips to Prevent Wounds from Scarring

Dealing with skin irritation

And finally, to deal with skin inflammation and irritation, the doctor might also give your child topical anti-inflammatory medicines. They could be corticosteroid creams or non-steroidal ointments. If skin infection has set in, your child might need to take some antibiotics.

Key Takeaways

Since we still don’t know what causes childhood eczema, treatment usually revolves around improving the symptoms.

The best way to treat childhood eczema fast is to deal with skin dryness, itchiness, and irritation. And of course, don’t forget to reduce their exposure to known triggers.

Learn more about Skin Diseases in Children here. 


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Elfred Landas, MD

General Practitioner · Maxicare Primary Care Center

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 15, 2021

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