Rash or eczema? Here’s how to find out
When it comes to caring for your baby’s skin, it’s important to be armed with the proper know-how and the right tools such as sensitive skin products — especially when dealing with a skin condition like eczema.
Given babies’ sensitive skin, even the slightest contact with an irritant — be it daddy’s beard, a wooly blanket, harsh soaps, or even mom’s perfume — can trigger redness and itching. No surprise here! An infant’s skin is very delicate, making it very vulnerable to irritation.
But while most parents already know this, the tricky part is determining if a skin flare-up is nothing more than a mild case of skin sensitivity or something more serious, like eczema. But what does an eczema rash look like? And what is eczema?
A chronic skin condition that usually begins in infancy, eczema affects about 10 to 20% of young children, and can persist until adulthood. Unlike simple rashes that usually go away quickly with proper management (like heat rash or diaper rash), eczema usually comes with recurrent redness and itchy skin, and can cause the affected areas to become thick, leathery, and even discoloured.
Not sure if your child has a simple rash or something more serious? What does an eczema rash look like? Here, we provide a list of questions to help you figure it out.
Question #1: Is it itchy?
Not all rashes are itchy; some might just be irritated or inflamed skin. But eczema definitely comes with mild to moderate itchiness, coupled with dry, scaly skin. In some
cases, the itchiness gets so bad that kids tend to scratch the area until it bleeds, making the condition worse. A lukewarm bath helps relieve the itch; just steer clear of harsh soaps, which may only cause more irritation.
Question #2: Where are the rashes? What does an eczema rash look like?
Eczema usually appears as itchy, red patches, but bear in mind that the appearance and location may change as your baby grows up.
- In young babies: It usually looks red and weepy, and appears more often on the cheeks, forehead, and scalp.
- For babies six to 12 months old: It occurs more often on crawling surfaces such as the elbows and knees.
- In toddlers two years old and above: It’s usually visible on the hands, elbows, and in the "bending" areas of the body like the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. But it can also appear anywhere — including the neck, chest, and eyelids.
Question #3: What are the triggers?
Unlike common rashes with very clear triggers — such as heat rash, which is caused by sweating or too hot temperatures, or a diaper rash, which stems from irritation from soiled diaper — there are several possible causes of eczema. These include genetics, as well as the abnormal function of the immune system. Other triggers also include: skin dryness, irritants (from everyday products such as soaps, lotions, household cleaners), pollutants such as cigarette smoke, and stress.
It is important to take note, though, that flare-ups can appear some time after exposure, making some triggers extra challenging to detect.
Question #4: Do the rashes keep coming back?
Since eczema is classified as a long-lasting (a.k.a. chronic) skin condition, chances of recurrence are high — that is, without proper management. It would be best to consult a dermatologist or physician if you notice that your child’s rashes aren’t going away, or tend to come back periodically.
What to do if your child has eczema
While it may be alarming to discover that your child is suffering from eczema, the good news is you can definitely manage it — with the help of the right skin care habits and products for your child’s sensitive skin. Here are some tips to prevent flare-ups and minimise the symptoms:
- Keep skin moisturized. An inability to hydrate skin is at the heart of eczema.
A specialised product such as Cetaphil Pro Ad Derma answers this problem directly by gently moisturising sensitive skin to prevent and control skin flare-ups.
- Formulated with Filaggrin technology, this clinically-proven moisturizer improves skin’s ability to retain moisture while also strengthening the skin’s barrier, so skin is less susceptible to irritation.
- It absorbs quickly and is non-greasy.
- It’s hypoallergenic and free from parabens, steroids and fragrance.
- Avoid sweating or overheating. Hot temps can trigger eczema episodes, so make sure your house is well ventilated. It’s also best to avoid sudden changes in temperature or humidity.
- Steer clear of irritants. Stay away from triggers such as harsh products and chemicals, particularly bath products. Choose light and breathable clothes, and avoid those made with itchy materials such as wool and other synthetic fabrics.
- Ditch the itch. Give regular lukewarm baths to relieve the itching, and teach your child not to scratch. (Applying a cold compress or towel is a good alternative!) Your doctor may also prescribe antihistamines and other oral medications in severe cases.
For best results, cleanse skin with the Cetaphil PRO AD Derma Skin Restoring Wash before moisturizing with the Cetaphil PRO AD Derma Skin Restoring Moisturizer.
For more information, visit https://cetaphil.com.my/en/