If you see dry, red, scaly patches on your child’s skin, it may be eczema, a condition caused by inflammation. Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema often runs in families and is linked to allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.
Amy Gilliam, M.D., a pediatric dermatologist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, counsels many Northern California parents on how they can manage their children’s eczema.
“Although eczema is linked to allergies, eliminating potential allergens from your child’s diet or environment may not necessarily improve eczema,” she says.
The rough, scaly and occasionally oozing patches that signal eczema usually appear on babies’ cheeks, forehead and scalp at around 3 to 4 months of age. Older children typically have the patches inside their elbow creases, on the wrists, behind the knees and on their necks.
“There is no cure for eczema. However, your child’s skin will often improve substantially by the time he or she has reached school age (usually around 4 or 5), and many children outgrow this uncomfortable condition,” Dr. Gilliam says.