Toddlers with eczema develop patches of itchy, inflamed skin that can also be cracked, blistered, and scaly. The itching associated with eczema can be very irritating and can disrupt sleep. Eczema can occur due to a combination of genetic and environmental causes and triggers. There are many medical and home therapies that can reduce itching and dry skin in toddlers, including wet wraps and diluted bleach baths.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. It affects more than 9.6 million children and about 16.5 million adults in the United States.
Atopic dermatitis usually begins in the first 6 months of a person’s life. Children who have asthma or hay fever may be more likely to develop eczema.
The appearance of eczema varies depending on the type a toddler has. The skin can also change over time if eczema persists. Signs of eczema in toddlers include:dry, itchy skin, flushed skin that is made worse by scratching, small blisters, weeping or oozing patches of skin, caused by rubbing or scratching, discolored skin, rough and scaly skin.
Because eczema can be intensely itchy and sore, toddlers might be more irritable than usual. Eczema may also disturb sleep, which can affect how toddlers feel and behave throughout the day.
Eczema may appear differently depending on a child’s skin tone.
See what eczema may look like on black skin here.
Infants younger than the age of 1 may be more likely to develop an eczema rash on their: cheeks, forehead, scalp, It may then spread to their: knees, elbows, trunk, It is rare for eczema to affect a child’s diaper area.
The location and appearance of eczema change as children grow and may vary from child to child. However, the National Eczema Association lists the following signs that may be more likely at certain ages:
Many children who have eczema as babies or toddlers show signs of improvement by the age of 5 or 6. It can go away entirely on its own.
However, some children may notice their eczema returns as they enter puberty. It can also persist into adulthood.
Causes and triggers
Eczema is not contagious, so one person cannot spread it to another. Experts believe eczema happens because of a combination of inherited genes and triggers in the environment.
Eczema may run in families.
Some people with eczema have a mutation of the gene that creates the protein filaggrin. If a person does not have enough filaggrin, their skin can become dry and more prone to infection.
Children born to parents with a history of allergic conditions such as eczema, asthma, and hay fever are more likely to develop the same conditions. Children with eczema in infancy and toddlerhood are more likely to go on to develop asthma and hay fever, according to one 2017 studyTrusted Source.
In these conditions, an allergen or irritant from inside or outside the body can trigger the immune system to produce inflammation. That causes eczema flare-ups, which are recurrent areas of inflammation on skin that is prone to eczema.
As toddlers explore their environment, they meet a wider variety of potential allergens and irritants. It is very difficult to identify substances that trigger flare-ups. It may be a series of biochemical processes that lead to toddler eczema, rather than simply cause and effect.