Treating Eczema

How to Treat and Control Eczema

Do your kids have dry, rough, itchy patches of skin? It could be eczema! The rash may appear red on lighter skin, or purple or grey on darker skin. With eczema, the skin barrier isn’t holding in water well, and as a result, the skin becomes dry, cracked, and is more likely to become infected. Flare-ups are common, and can be so uncomfortable they can make your children miserable. There is no known cure for eczema, but there are ways to help your child avoid eczema flare-ups! Treatments usually target four common problems of eczema: dryness, itching, irritated skin, and infection.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shares these tips to BEAT THE RASH:

  1. Give your child a quick bath every day for 5-10 minutes. Use lukewarm water and just a little soap. Use only fragrance-free, hypoallergenic cleansers. Avoid scrubbing the skin and don’t use bubble bath.
  2. Pat your child’s skin dry after the bath or shower. If your pediatrician has prescribed any topical medicines, apply these to the areas of rash BEFORE applying any moisturizers.
  3. Apply a mild moisturizer to the whole body immediately after bathing while the skin is still damp. This helps “lock in” the moisture of the water. The thicker the moisturizer, the better it will work. Ointments such as petroleum jelly are good choices. Apply moisturizer every day even if the rash is gone.
  4. Dress your child in soft fabrics like 100% cotton. Use mild, fragrance-free laundry detergents. Don’t use fabric softeners or fabric sheets in the dryer.

Gentle skincare is the first step in making the skin feel less itchy. Other ways to help reduce the itch:

  • Prevent scratching. Try to stop your child from scratching as much as possible since scratching can make the skin feel even more itchy. Scratching can also lead to open sores which can lead to skin infections. Keep your child’s nails cut short. Wearing cotton gloves at night can also help.
  • Wet wrap treatments. Apply wet wraps AFTER bathing and applying topical medicines and moisturizers. Here’s how:
    • Soak a pair of pajamas or onesies in warm water.
    • Wring out the pajamas until they are damp and not dripping.
    • Put the damp pajamas on your child, with dry pajamas on top.
    • Make sure the room is warm or provide a warm blanket, so your child doesn’t feel cold.
    • Keep the wet wraps on for at least a half an hour, or leave them on overnight.
  • Antihistamine medicines like diphenhydramine and hydroxyzine may help your child feel drowsy so they fall asleep more easily instead of scratching their skin. Antihistamines do not usually take away the itch, though. Always follow directions about your child’s age and weight and talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.

The AAP shares these tips to HELP PREVENT ECZEMA FLARE-UPS:

  • Gentle daily skincare, as described above, is one of the most important things you can do to prevent future eczema flares. Talk with your pediatrician about a daily routine that is best for your child.
  • Avoiding triggers is also important to prevent future flares of eczema. Eczema triggers are different for different children. Some parents and physicians may consider allergy testing to further identify triggers that can be avoided. Some triggers include: Dust mites, fragrances, heat, sweat, hormones, insect bites and stings, pet dander, pollen, tobacco smoke, wool or synthetic fabrics, and in rare cases certain foods.


  • Topical steroid medicines (“steroids” or “cortisones”) are applied to the skin to heal irritated eczema rashes (inflammation). These prescription medications are usually used twice a day when the rash is flaring up. Topical steroids come in different strengths and forms (such as lotions, ointments, creams, gels, and oils). Your pediatrician will help you find the right combination for your child’s skin. When used correctly, topical steroids are very safe and effective.
  • Non-steroid eczema medicines (tacrolimus ointment, pimecrolimus cream, crisaborole ointment). These are also prescription medicines that help heal irritated eczema rashes using different active ingredients than steroids. They can be helpful on mild eczema and on delicate areas of skin, like the eyelids, armpits and groin.

If you have any questions about your child’s eczema or other skin issues, contact The Pediatric Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho or Rigby, Idaho. Our medical staff at The Pediatric Center currently consists of seven Board Certified Pediatricians and three Certified Pediatric Physician Assistants. We have been serving eastern Idaho for over 55 years providing quality pediatric care and offer extended hours so we can better serve your family and their health care needs.

Some content provided by The American Academy of Pediatrics