Kids get skin rashes from time to time, especially in the summer months. So when your little one has red patches on their face, how do you know if it’s eczema or another skin condition such as heat rash, acne or hives? Dermatologist Anna Kirkorian, M.D., at Children’s National Health System shares four ways you can spot signs of eczema on your child.
Eczema is commonly known as the “itch that rashes.” It causes skin to dry and flake, which leads to a constant itchy feeling that’s uncomfortable.
If you notice that your child is scratching a scaly, red rash all day and night, that may be the first sign that he or she is suffering from eczema. Babies don’t know how to use their hands to scratch their skin, so they will rub against anything, including bed sheets, to relieve the painful feeling.
The itchiness can be so severe that your child may be fussy and have trouble sleeping. But scratching the affected area can make the rash worse, leading to a thick, brownish scab that can ooze with blood.
Location Plays a Big Part
Babies from 1 month to 2 years old tend to get eczema on their cheeks (especially when they are drooling) and scalp. Older children will generally have it on the folds of their wrists, knees and ankles. If your child has a red, itchy and scaly rash that isn’t in a classic location for eczema, it could be allergic contact dermatitis, meaning they might be allergic to something they’re coming into contact with such as soap, shampoo or lotion.
It Goes Away and Comes Back
Most skin rashes go away within a few days or weeks, but eczema goes away for a short period of time and then reappears. Everyday elements in the environment like smoke, pollen, pet dander and fragrances can cause eczema to flare up.
The best way to prevent eczema flare ups is to use a thick, fragrance-free moisturizer at least twice a day over your child’s entire body.
If your 12-year-old has never had eczema and suddenly has a dry and itchy rash, it’s less likely to be eczema since eczema usually starts at a young age. But if a baby starts to get dry itchy patches, eczema is most likely the culprit.
There are many skin rashes that are red and itchy, so if you’ve tried using moisturizers on your child’s skin and that isn’t working, you should see a dermatologist for a diagnosis.
Anna Kirkorian, M.D. is a dermatologist in the Division of Dermatology at Children’s National Health System. Her interests and expertise include vascular birthmarks, neonatal dermatology, genetic skin disorders, inflammatory skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis, pigmented lesions (moles), acne and hyperhidrosis (increased sweating). Dr. Kirkorian grew up in New York City. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in French Language & Literature and Human Biology from the University of Virginia and a medical degree from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.