Awareness April we are calling it! From 22 to 28 April we will be celebrating World Allergy Week to raise awareness of Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema. We spoke to Dr Robert Loblay the Director of Royal Prince Alfred's Allergy Unit to find out more about Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a non-infectious, inflammatory skin condition that is often dry, itchy and red in colour. It is not contagious, meaning that you cannot pass it on to someone else.
Eczema can be caused by many things and everyone is different. Some babies and children will develop eczema because they are allergic to certain foods. Others may have eczema caused by something in the environment, like dust mites or heat.
“There is an epidemic of food allergies in the 0 to 4 years age group”, says Dr Loblay, “and food allergies are closely associated with eczema. In fact, the majority of children with food allergies will also have eczema.
If you think your child might have eczema, it is best to take them to your local doctor. The first step is finding out what your child is allergic to and how they became allergic”, says Dr Loblay.
If your child does have eczema, your doctor or specialist can help you develop an action or eczema management plan. This plan will support you in managing and treating your child’s eczema and look at what you can do to prevent it from coming back.
There are different ways you can treat eczema, however the key principle is to try to control and prevent the eczema instead of only treating it when it flares up.
The RPA Allergy Unit strongly recommends moisturising on a regular basis, using suitable moisturising creams. RPA Allergy Unit recommends crease that are fragrance free or unperfumed. This is usually done twice daily, but may be required more often if the skin is inflamed. If the skin were to become inflamed and the eczema “flares” then they recommend more frequent use of emollients as well as the application of topical steroids. This, along with the application of wet dressings to help hydrate the skin and the avoidance of known triggers such as certain foods, should all be part of the eczema management plan.
Before trying anything new at home it is important to talk to your local doctor to find out what is best for your child.