Last-Modified: September 14, 1996
Misc.kids Frequently Asked Questions
Collection maintained by: Anita Graham )
Last updated: September 14, 1996
Copyright 1996, Anita Graham. Use and copying of this information are
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given above, and ask me to add your comments to the FAQ file on Eczema.
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For a list of other FAQ files, look for the FAQ File Index posted to
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- Part 2
When my mother was staying with us after Will was born, she scratched
her leg with her fingernail, not badly. It bled and bled and was
generally pretty scary. What could be making her bleed so easily?
Fortunately, it turned out to be merely that the hydrocortisone cream
she'd been using had thinned her skin too much. Somehow the Beconase AQ
she'd been using for her asthma increased the steroid level beyond what
she could handle, she told me, although this is not supposed to happen.
She decided she'd rather have skin problems than asthma--the skin
problem is less likely to kill her--and gave up using the cream.
I doubt you'll ever see this reaction in your child, and I think you
should keep using it as long as it's satisfactory and your doctor
recommends it, but there *are* reasons for caution even with skin
My daughter Alison has suffered from eczema since birth, and we finally
went to an excellent pediatric dermatologist here in NYC based out of
NYU. He told us that humidifiers do nothing for moisturizing the skin,
and that some "creme" based lotions actually dry the skin. Besides
prescribing a cortisone ointment, he suggested a great over the counter
ointment, "Aquaphor". It is almost vaseline like in consistency, and it
is supposed to keep moisture _IN_ the skin. He suggested using it
immediatly after a bath, even before drying her off. We saw immediate
improvement (this may have been due to a small sample of a powerful
prescription ointment that we used for only a few days), however there
has been significant _LONG TERM_ improvement from just using the
Aquaphor, without any cortisone. Hope this helps.
Something that works well with my daughter is Aquaphor Ointment. I like
it much better than Eucerin creme for her because it's an ointment, so
goes on in a less irritating way. I also use it on diaper rash and
never have to use anything else. It's an all-natural ointment that just
speeds up healing. I use that most of the time, and only as a last
resort use the prescription creme.
I've been a lifelong sufferer of eczema. I glob Eucerine (actually a
generic brand equivalent, much cheaper) all over after I shower. I use
Bais soap for dry skin (I've tried many others and I'm least irritated
by it), and that's what I use on my daugther. I tried Cetaphil on
myself at some point in the past, and it irritated my skin more than it
helped. Of course I've used hydrocortisone creams of over the years,
and it HAS thinned out my skin, as someone else warned. The newer
medicine I use is called Elocon, and my dermatologist said it's not
supposed to have the thinning effect. That's what I use on my daughter
as a last resort.
Bathing infrequently is something that's suggested a lot. In my own
experience, that may help slightly, but hurts if there is sweating or
other irritating things falling on your skin. I feel better after
washing and moisturizing.
Drastic changes in temperature are also irritating. Tight clothing too.
Disposable diapers, especially the waist/hip area where the plastic is
closest to the skin--my daughter reliably gets a rash in that area when
she uses plastic diapers, she's usually on cotton. A humidifier is
good--remember to clean it out often with a solution with bleach to
remove molds--eczema can also be related to allergies.
Seems like you're doing all the right things. In time many kids outgrow
it, so they say.
In my daugther's case, it improves after winter. In my case, sweating
irritates me just as much, so it's a yearlong battle...
Damaris M. Ayuso )
I thought I would pass on a few points I've picked up about my own
eczema which didn't develop until I was 17. I'm not sure how relevant
they are to childhood eczema but I am interested in that because I may
have babies yet!
1) Eczema is related to asthma and hayfever (both in my family).
Doctors call them the atopic triangle.
2) In my case the eczema and the asthma can be caused by house dust
mite faeces - these build up in bedding and soft furnishings and
carpets. An answer is to vacuum very often and to wash sheets and
things hot (55 deg c). You can get breathable barriers for mattresses
and pillows that prevent the passage of the faeces and the mites.
These things all helped my asthma a great deal (pretty much cured it)
and as a side-effect helped the eczema.
3) The cortico-steroid creams are effective but you can develop an
allergy to components of the cream! If this happens you can find
yourself using them with a gradual worsening of the symptoms. Answer -
switch to a different formulation.
Ben Strulo )
My .02 cents worth: the 10% urea cream irritated my son's skin more
than it helped him. The Eucerin creme (as opposed to lotion) usually
works. We're also using something else called Dermasil which seems to
keep it under control.
The rash/eczema is worse in winter than summer, probably due to
dryness. Humidifier definitely helps.
I only bathe him 2 or 3 times a week and dissolve the Aveeno oatmeal
powder in the bathwater. There's a similar product called Actibath
which doesn't leave a scum in the tub (or on the bath toys :-).
Downside: I suspect it's more expensive (though I have not yet compared
prices)--you only get 4 "cakes" as opposed to 8 powder packets per
package. The Actibath cakes take longer to dissolve but seem equally
One other suggestion: shampoo and rinse the hair before running the
water into the bath, so that the shampoo does not negate the effects of
any "good" stuff you add to the water.
I had a scalp condition from the time I was _very_ young (and it was
called "cradle cap") until about 5 yrs ago. It was called (variously)
eczema, seborrhea, seborrheic dermatitis, cradle cap, etc, and
persisted in spite of many OTC treatments, with itching, scaling,
peeling of thick chunks of skin, etc. A friend gave me some Ivory
shampoo just before I went on a trip; I used the Ivory for 6 days and
the skin problem disappeared. I've used the same brand of shampoo
(various flavors, usually unscented) ever since, with no recurrence.
Twice, briefly, I've used other shampoos (Johnson's baby shampoo and
some Redken stuff), but each time started to get excessive flakiness of
scalp, etc., after 3-4 days.
I attribute the "cure" to Ivory brand shampoo, and presume that the
cause is a reaction to some common ingredient of many (most) other
shampoos, including anti-dandruff types. I am not an employee or
spokesperson for whoever makes Ivory products.
Richard Ebling )
[from the first part of this Eczema FAQ]
2. Decrease baths to 1-2
times per week and pour one capful of oil over bath water, blot dry.
Recommended oils: Keri oil, baby oil, mineral oil. (Note from LD: This
has been discussed in misc.kids, and the consensus seems to be that any
unscented oil would be fine, i.e. vegetable oil. However, Keri oil in
the US, and similar oils in other countries are specifically made to
disperse through the water, and not leave such a bathtub ring.)
My daughter has been suffering from severe allergic dermatitis since
she was about 2 months old. On a recommendation from our pediatricion,
we visited the Pediatric Clinical Research Unit at Johns Hopkins
Hospital (run by Dr. Hugh Sampson). There she was diagnosed with
significant food allergies (dairy, eggs, turkey, peanuts), and put on
an restrictive diet.
In order to avoid constant use of hydrocortisone, (several times a day,
all over, to control eczema), Sampson recommended moisturizing several
times a day. Interestingly, he said that baths are highly recommended,
as long as you avoid soap. The regime that she has been put through
(now for over three years), is to wrap her body in wet cloth diapers in
"Domeboro" solution, and then we wrap her with Depends style bed and
chair protectors. Finally, we wrap her in a blanket, to retain body
heat. When she was younger, she took her naps like this, but now just
watches a video (typically over 1 hour). When we unwrap her, we then
"seal" her with petroleum jelly (or similar). Then at night, she has a
soaking bath (at least 1/2 hour), with soap only as needed, and then
only at the end of the soak (we're on a well, so chloring drying her
out isn't a problem). When she gets out, we also then seal her. At
night she gets a small dose of anti-histimine to help her sleep (due to
itching). BTW, Dr. Sampson's own daughter suffers from food allergy
induced eczema, so he knows how much work these regimes are!
This treatment has kept her almost 100% free of eczema flare-ups for
the last three years. While it is a high maintenance plan, it is almost
drug-free. As she's gotten older, she has been "helping out" with her
"wrap and nap" (as it's called). She helps in the setup of the
materials, in the unwrapping, and in the sealing (the goobying as she
Of course, she's still on the restrictive diet, and wears only cotton
clothes; we use the standard baby laundry detergent, and double rinse
her wash, and of course avoid any dryer softener products.
Frankly, the biggest pain is not the daily treatments, it's her diet --
especially when we go out to eat. Most restaurants are ignorant of what
goes in their food. Suprisingly, the ones that know the most are the
fast food places, and the most helpful of those was...McDonalds! They
provide a food allergy guide to their products. Most McDonalds have it,
or can provide you an 800 number to call to receive it. The other
restaurants that are helpful are the higher end ones, especially those
that make everything on premise and are run by the chef. Here, you can
talk to the person who made everything or at least specfied how to make
Well, finally, whenever I hear of a child with bad eczema, I always
recommend that the parents contact a pediatric allergist, and always
refer them to the Food Allergy Network.
Dave Gellerman )
I would like to add to the FAQ that in cases of eczema in arid or
semi-arid climate, infrequent bathing is *not* recommend, but just the
opposite. Our allergist informed us that eczema is a hydration problem
and that in really severe cases, patients are wrapped in moist towels.
For my 8 month son, we bathe him several times a week and just wick the
water off of him when he gets out of the tub. Then, we slather him with
Aveeno or Eucerin to lock in the moisture. Works great! We have also
had better luck with Aveeno over Eucerin. Incidentally, Jake does have
a milk allergy so once we cut out the dairy products, his eczema has
My 10 month old baby girl has mild eczema.
I did an InfoSeek search on the MDX collection and located two articles
(in BMJ and J Pediatr) which indicate that casein hydrolysate formula
was the least likely to cause eczema (21%) vs. soy or cow's milk based
formula (63%, 70% respectively).
I've recently returned to work from maternity leave and while surfing
the net I discovered some information that I found particularly
My 7 month old boy had developed a terribly ugly rash under his chin
and on his neck. Two doctors suggested different creams and treatments
that did nothing to heal the rash only aggravate me. After reading your
faq I learned of similar cases where Eucerin was used on the affected
area. I purchased this over-the-counter cream and after 24 hours I say
a dramatic difference and 3 days later the rash is almost completely
Thank you to all who shared their personal stories and helped me make
my son more comfortable.
I had very severe eczema when I was about 25, covering all my legs. I
stopped eating citrus fruits and it cleared up in about a week! I have
had no reoccurrence since although if I drink orange juice I start to
I also got bad psoriasis a few years later and stopped drinking
anything with caffeine in it. I have had no reoccurrence.
I haven't yet been able to get rid of my bad acne which I've had since
puberty. I'm 47. Any ideas?
I have had eczema from a very young age--I was diagnosed at about age
one. After I turned four or five it went away for a long time, but then
showed up again when I was in high school, primarily on my earlobes,
neck, and arms. I would also occasionally get it on the backs of my
knees. Some people told me that zinc cream (like the kind you use on a
diaper rash) or aloe would work, but they didn't seem very effective.
One natural way of controlling the milder outbreaks was to smear plain
white yogurt on the affected area and let it dry there overnight. This
reduces redness and softens and moisturizes the area a bit. However, it
is only good on small patches or milder outbreaks. The nice thing about
it is that it is completely natural and although you end up smelling
like yogurt it does make you feel better.
The main thing that has helped me in controlling the rash is to limit
the amount of stress in my life. I have found that the thing that will
make me break out the worst is simply feeling anxious or stressed out
over a long period of time. In cases like that nothing seemed to help
me at all. I tried everything. Cortisone burned my skin, as did any
moisturizers except for Jergen's fragrance-free lotion for extremely
dry skin, and then only right after bathing. But by reducing the stress
in my life the rash has almost completely gone away.
I don't know how useful this will be for small children. But from
someone who truly knows the terribleness of constant itching, I wish
you the best.
My daughter Katie developed eczema at the age of 2. It didn't respond
to diet or any of the normal treatments. We took her to an allergy
specialist who, after many tests couldn't find any particular cause
other than dairy products. We had her on a 4 day rotation diet for six
months. Nothing seemed to help. The only thing we hadn't tried was
filtering the water, although the tests didn't show she was allergic to
chlorine. Bullseye! Within a week all eczema had disappeared. A year
later she could tolerate drinking chlorinated water (in our normal
water supply). She is now 11 years old and has had no recurring eczema,
although if she swims in a chlorinated pool she tends to become very
Belinda Webb, Melbourne Australia
For young babies with Eczema if you want to avoid cortisone
preparations and are keen on more natural products Calendula cream
Something that does not seem to have been mentioned is that a sudden
worsening of eczema can sometimes be due to the onset of Chicken Pox.
My 3 year old daughter has had fairly mild eczema for a while and a
couple of weeks back it suddenly got a lot worse. None of the usual
treatments worked, until after a couple of weeks red spots started to
appear. At first we thought this was the rash spreading, but of course
it turned out to be chicken pox. The areas affected by eczema did not
get spots, probably because of the poorer skin.
Apparently this is also when she was at her most contageous. The signs
to watch out for are fever symptoms (coughing, sneezing, etc) and a
sudden worsening of the eczema.
I hope this helps someone!
Our son Liam developed eczema at 3 months and is now 15 months, his
case was the usual, red itchy patches around wrists & hands, ankles &
feet, neck, face, and back, but rarely on front or nappy area. We tried
everything, doctors, dermatologists, cortisone ointments, bathing,
aequeous creams, cotton clothing, changing washing powders,
elimination/restrictive diets etc.
We settled on a regimen of using cortisone (1%) and Aequous cream along
with a restrictive diet, this worked quite well for the most part but
he still would wake up at night scratching and in distress, the use of
more cortisone cream eased it but we didn't like to use too much of it.
We met another couple who had a similar experience to ours, they
recommended a pharmacy that make up their own range of creams etc for
eczema and it worked very well for them. We tried it.
There was a dramatic improvement in his condition within 48 hours,
within a few days his dry cracked feet and hands were soft and clear,
now after three weeks you have to look hard for signs of eczema, it
still bothers him as he is teething but nothing like before, he is in
better spirits and looks great. We still watch his diet and won't
change anything in that regard until he has had all his teeth.
The pharmacy is O'Leary's Pharmacy, 54A Thomas St, Dublin 8. Ireland.
Tel:+353 1 4542080. Fax:+353 1 4533672. Ask for Mr Iain Macdonald.
BTW. I am in NO way connected with am buisness, I write this in the
hope that it will benefit others as well as it has us.
We have been battling eczema with our 9 month old son. We have tried
everything: Eucerin, Aquaphor, Calendula cream and of course cortisone
steroids which work well but have side effects. We recently discovered
Theraplex! It works and is not a steroid. Theraplex can be found at
Target and Longs.
We also use Aveeno cleanser to wash his skin and shampoo his hair. His
eczema is now under control. Hope this helps.
David and Helen Wong.
I have had eczema for all twenty years I've been alive, and I now
believe the main cause to be stress. Even as a child I remember
embarassing situations as having caused flare-ups. Nonetheless, eczema
is also allergy-related, and the April-May months are the worst for my
eczema due to the high air pollen content. Also, I am allergic to dust
mite feces, which are found everywhere. A HEPA air filter helps this
situation somewhat, but is quite expensive relative to the benefits it
provides. I am also allergic to a couple items of fruit -- banannas and
How did I pinpoint the causes of my eczema? I took a scratch test in a
dermatologist's office. He tested the various known allergins by
placing a drop of each on my back and pricking them to see whether or
not a flare-up occurred. (By the way, the itching is what causes the
rash, not the allergin by itself.) I recommend scratch tests for those
who have insurance for them and want to discover which foods to avoid.
My dermatologist recommended showering every other day and avoiding
extended amounts of time pool-swimming, as chlorine is an abrasive
chemical (but not an allergin). I've heard that ocean swimming can
actually help the disease due to certain minerals found in the water.
Also, as most of you already know, those with eczema should avoid
fragranced deodorents, perfumes, soaps, and lotions. Fragrance acts as
a drying agent. There are lots of fragrance-free lotions on the market,
but I have found that Eucerin lotion (not creme) works especially well.
In extreme cases, eczema sufferers should apply the lotion three times
Steriods cause premature aging and do not work if used continuously for
long periods of time, but they can relieve the itching and redness. I
always use them as a last resort.
I have tried an over-the-counter homeopathic remedy, but I did not find
any relief which justified the extreme pain I went through while taking
it. I do not recommend them. Perhaps a homeopathic doctor or herbalist
would be more efficient in determining the right type of medication. I
have also tried herbal remedies, and they did nothing. My friend said
she noticed that licorice tea relieved her psoriasis (a related skin
Most of all, I recommend that those with eczema avoid stressful
situations. Finals week was horrible for me last year (I woke up in the
middle of the night from the painful rash), but since then I've began
taking relaxing breaks and meditating, and finals have been much more
Finally, EXERCISE and healthy eating habits create healthy skin.
Exercising for at least 30 minutes, three times a week will clean the
blood of toxins which are built up by stress and will allow the skin to
Good luck, and I have heard that some children finally outgrow their
eczema altogether. I'm still waiting, though mine has improved