Is it eczema?

Q: Our 1-year-old has red patches of skin on his cheeks. It is eczema?

A:  Eczema is a chronic skin condition. Since it’s chronic, the symptoms can fluctuate in severity. At times the skin can look completely normal. When it’s exacerbated or triggered, it can appear quite dry, red or irritated and can be quite itchy or painful. 

In infants, the rash usually occurs on the face or scalp, similar to what you describe for your son. 

In toddlers and young children, the rash often appears in the folds of the elbows and knees. Each episode of eczema can vary in duration. Some may resolve without treatment. 

Treatment is usually tailored to how severe the eczema is. It can be topical (applied to the skin) or oral. 

With all kids, parents can take measures to try to minimize the eczema being triggered. Measures can include keeping the skin well moisturized (by applying lotion at least daily), avoiding certain irritants (such as scratchy fabrics and soaps/lotions that have dyes/perfumes or harsh chemicals) and encouraging children to not scratch the rash (if they’re old enough to take direction).

A little over half of the patients who develop this condition, develop it before they’re 1 year old. 

Nearly 90 percent of patients who develop eczema will have symptoms before they’re 5 years old. It can run in families, and can be associated with other allergic conditions such as environmental allergies and asthma. 

Many infants can outgrow eczema by the time they’re in kindergarten; those who don’t may still outgrow it by the time they’re adults. There’s a small percentage of patients who may have eczema throughout their lifetime.