Monday, 17 July 2017 06:08

Childhood Eczema

Childhood Eczema

Childhood eczema is very common and sometimes found in the same child as part of the allergic triad of asthma, eczema and hay fever. Unfortunately it is often under treated in children due to fears about the overuse of steroid creams. This arises from well meaning yet misguided advice given by health professionals as well as friends and family.

All eczema, even in its mildest form, should be treated by the daily use of moisturising creams such as sorbolene and the avoidance of soaps that dry out and irritate the skin. However to get control of eczema and to treat acute flares the best treatment to use is topically applied cortisone creams or ointments.

A visit to your doctor for a full assessment and a management plan should be the first step. Almost always, as part of the treatment, they will recommend the use of cortisone (steroid) creams or ointment. The following questions are often asked and on each of them parents can be reassured.

Doesn’t cortisone thin the skin?

This has not been shown to be the case when steroids are applied to active eczema. Doctors will tailor the strength of the cortisone cream to the area it is applied and the severity of the condition. But be reassured, if there is eczema there; the cortisone applied can only be good for the skin and the child.

Can the cortisone be absorbed and affect other things like growth?

A tiny amount of cortisone can be absorbed but the amount is trivial when applied as prescribed and it will not affect the child.

Is it dangerous to put cortisone cream on the face?

Not if it is applied to eczema and generally the lowest strength cortisone cream is started first. Cortisone should not be applied to any rash without a medical assessment first and the face is no exception.

You shouldn’t use cortisone cream for too long.

You should use cortisone cream for as long as it takes to control the eczema. If it is not improving your doctor needs to know.

As a GP, I have never seen problems with the overuse of cortisone creams in children. The only problem I see is undertreated eczema due to unfounded fears about the use of an excellent therapeutic product. Prescribed correctly, parents have nothing to fear.