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Child scratching her arm

Stop the Scratch: Eczema Triggers to Avoid

By Dr. Kelly Maples, Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology at CHKD

When you’re a kid and your skin itches, it’s natural to scratch.

That’s why it’s important for parents to help their children avoid triggers of eczema, a chronic skin condition that causes dry, red, itchy skin. It’s the most common skin problem treated by pediatric dermatologists.

To help children avoid scratching to the point of oozing or flaking, it’s best to take some proactive steps. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society for Pediatric Dermatology:

Keep your child’s skin moisturized.

Cream or ointment provides more moisture than lotion. Stick with fragrance-free products for best results and apply at least once a day, or more if needed. Moisturizer applied to skin after bath time – with the skin patted dry but still damp – works best.

Avoid products that irritate the skin.

The usual suspects include scratchy fabrics and soaps with perfume. Choose cotton clothing instead of wool. Look for mild soaps and detergents that are free of fragrance and dyes.

Keep bath time short.

Daily baths of five to 10 minutes with room temperature water – not hot – are best for skin. I recommend a soap free cleanser. Bathing daily removes allergens like pollen and prevents dirt and sweat from irritating the skin.

Try to keep your child from scratching.

Scratching an itch is natural, but remind your child to hold off. Explain that scratching can cause painful infections and worsen the rash. Keep your child’s fingernails cut short.

Be aware of your child’s specific triggers to scratching.

For some children, these triggers can include allergies to pollen, pets, or dust mites. Sweating and stress can also trigger flare-ups. Other triggers include bathing too much without moisturizing, low humidity, exposure to cigarette or wood smoke, friction, and overheating of skin.

If your child’s skin continues to worsen despite avoiding these triggers, itching gets so bad they cannot sleep, or signs of infection develop, be sure to call your CHKD pediatrician.

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About Children's Specialty Group

About Children's  Specialty Group Children's Specialty Group is the only pediatric multi-specialty practice serving southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. The physicians of Children's Specialty Group base their practices at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters and serve as faculty in the Department of Pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Learn more about our specialists here.

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