Childhood Eczema

Childhood Eczema | UPMC Italy

Childhood eczema is a common skin condition that affects many children worldwide.  These conditions usually appear between 6 months and 5 years of age and almost always tend to regress spontaneously as they grow.

Let's explore the causes of this common condition

Although its exact cause is not yet fully understood, scholars and medical professionals have identified several theories about the origins of this condition.

  • Genetic predisposition: One of the main factors contributing to childhood eczema is genetic predisposition. If one or both parents have a history of eczema, asthma or allergies, the child is more likely to develop the condition.
  • Immune response and inflammation: Childhood eczema is often associated with an abnormal immune response and inflammation of the skin. The immune system of children with eczema may overreact to common irritants or allergens, such as dust, pet dander, or certain foods. This reaction can trigger skin inflammation and cause the typical symptoms of eczema, such as itching, redness and dryness of the skin.
  • Compromised skin barrier: Another possible cause of childhood eczema is an impaired skin barrier. The skin of children with eczema may be defective in its protective "barrier" function, which means it may be more susceptible to irritation and moisture loss. This skin fragility can make it easier for allergens and irritants to enter, thus aggravating eczema symptoms.
  • Environmental and lifestyle factors: Certain environmental and lifestyle factors can influence the development and severity of childhood eczema. Exposure to irritants such as harsh detergents, cleaning chemicals, or rough fabrics can worsen eczema symptoms. In addition, fluctuations in temperature, humidity and sweat can cause skin dryness and itching, thus contributing to the occurrence of eczema.
  • Nutrition and food allergies: The association between atopic dermatitis and food allergies has been the subject of much research. Some studies have suggested that certain foods, such as cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, or wheat, may trigger or worsen eczema symptoms in some sensitive children. However, it is important to note that not all children with eczema will necessarily develop food allergies.

At what age and how does childhood eczema manifest itself?

Childhood eczema can occur at different times and on different parts of the body.

It can start as early as early childhood, usually by age 5. Many times, it occurs in the first few months after birth, often around 2-3 months of age. However, it can also appear later in childhood.

Atopic dermatitis tends to mainly affect areas of the body that are subject to frequent irritation and friction. The most common parts affected by eczema in children include:

  • Face: Often, infants' cheeks are the first to be affected. Eczema can cause redness, dry skin, itching and scab formation on the face.
  • Scalp: Eczema can appear on the baby's scalp, causing scabs, flaking and itching.
  • Skin folds: Skin folds, such as those on the neck, knees, elbows or armpits, can be affected by eczema. These areas can become red, swollen, itchy and prone to cracking.
  • Hands and feet: Eczema can affect children's hands and feet, particularly the fingers and toes. These areas may have dry skin, cracking, and intense itching.
  • Legs and arms: Legs and arms can be affected by eczema, especially in the areas of folds or areas prone to rubbing. The skin may be red, dry, scaly, and itchy.

It is important to note that eczema can vary from individual to individual, and the body parts affected may differ from case to case. Some children may experience more widespread and generalized involvement, while others may have eczema limited to only a few specific areas.

Childhood eczema is a complex, multifactorial condition that can cause significant discomfort to the child, such as itching and skin irritation. Genetic predisposition, abnormal immune response, skin barrier impairment, environmental factors, and food allergies can all contribute to its onset and severity. However, it is important to remember that each child is unique and that the specific causes of eczema may vary from case to case. Consulting an experienced physician is essential for an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan to manage childhood eczema.

For any needs and advice, you may consult our dermatology service.