The eczema rash on your child’s skin may be associated with asthma. Eczema is a chronic skin condition that usually begins in early childhood. The specific cause of eczema remains unknown, but it is believed to develop due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It is often associated with food allergies, allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma. Some foods can trigger eczema in young children. So can skin staph infections. Pollen is just one of many potential causes for eczema, and children are more likely to get it if one or both parents have had eczema (sometimes called atopic dermatitis) or another atopic skin disease.
The asthma-eczema connection
Doctors used to think eczema was just an allergic reaction to a harmless allergen like pollen or dander. Now most agree that eczema is a problem with the outer layer of the skin. Instead of working as a barrier, your skin lets in germs, irritants or allergens. Of course, eczema is not purely allergic but it is clearly connected to food allergies, hay fever and asthma. Most kids with eczema get hay fever or asthma later in childhood. About one-third of adults who suffer from asthma or nasal allergies also had eczema as children. If your mom has allergies, there’s about a one in three chance you will have eczema. And more than one-third of children with moderate to severe eczema also have food allergies.
The strong link between asthma and eczema led to the term skin asthma. Medication for skin asthma typically includes oral antihistamines to relieve the itch caused by skin inflammation. Topical medicines like anti-inflammatory ointments or creams, topical immunomodulators, moisturizing creams or lotions are necessary most of the time. People with skin asthma should avoid the most common foods associated with allergic symptoms:
- Cow milk
- Tree nuts
- Sulfites & their agents found in dried fruits, prepared potatoes, wine, bottled lemon/lime juice & shrimp
For some children, eczema and allergies come in a specific order as the kids get older. They start with eczema, then “graduate” to food allergies, asthma and hay fever. Just because your child has eczema, it doesn’t mean they’ll get the other conditions. It just means there’s a higher risk. Kids who get eczema at very young age are more likely to have allergies or asthma later. Those with the worst eczema symptoms may have higher risk of getting allergies or asthma.
Helping your child
You can lower your child’s chances of worsening eczema, asthma or allergies. Talk to Dr. Mardiney about it. He might recommend:
- Breastfeeding: Some evidence suggests that breastfeeding for the first six to 12 months of your child’s life may reduce the chance of allergies or asthma later.
- Diet changes: Some doctors recommend diet changes such as avoiding solid foods until your baby is at least six months old.
- Getting allergy-tested: If you can find a specific allergen, you can more easily avoid it.
- Using a moisturizer: Thick creams and ointments can stop skin from drying out.
- Keeping your child’s fingernails short: If they scratch, they’ll do less damage to their skin.
- Avoiding irritants: Use unscented soap and laundry detergents.
- Avoiding cigarette smoke.
- Staying vigilant. If your child’s eczema seems to get worse or she/he develops allergy symptoms like nasal congestion or runny nose, see your doctor. The sooner your child gets treatment, the better.
Don’t suffer with allergies or asthma any longer. Call Advanced Allergy & Asthma Centers at 443-987-6998 in Bel Air or 443-519-2128 in Lutherville and Towson. Or use our convenient Request an Appointment form. We also welcome patients from Baltimore and Carney.