Living with eczema

Did you know 1 in 3 children and over 1 million Australians have eczema?

What is eczema?

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) is a chronic inflammatory skin condition. It can often lead to sleep disturbance and infection.  Eczema often starts in childhood and most kids will grow out of it by the time they turn five.  There is no cure for eczema, but there are very good treatment options that can control the symptoms, alleviate the child’s suffering and reduce the impact it has on the family as a whole.

What causes eczema?

We are not quite sure what causes eczema.   Genetic disposition, climate, allergies and pollution all play a role.  As we have gone into the summer, heat can be a potent trigger.

What are the symptoms?

The classic symptom is a widespread itchy rash.  It can involve any part of the body, but often involves the face, scalp, chest and back in a young infant, and in the arm or leg creases of a toddler. 

How to treat eczema?

In order to manage eczema, it is very important to give proper daily skin treatment, use the correct topical cream, avoiding triggers and seek medical attention when appropriate. 

Daily skin treatment

  • Daily bathing with bath oil.  Keep water temperature <31C and limit time to 5 minutes. 
  • Twice daily moisturising with thick, plain, alcohol-free and fragrance-free moisturiser.


Triggers to avoid

  • Avoid soap or shampoo.  Use soap-free skin cleansers.
  • Avoid overheating.  This is especially important during the summer months where too much clothing and hot cars can all be potential triggers. 
  • Avoid products that dry the skin such as alcohol baby wipes.
  • Avoid irritants such as hand sanitizer, prickly fabrics, detergents.


During eczema flare

  • Use the correct topical steroid creams.  Some of which may need a prescription.
  • Increase frequency of moisturising to at least 4 times per day.
  • Use wet dressing appropriately.


Skin infections secondary to eczema flare

  • Remove crusted lesions in the bath.  Then apply topical creams.
  • May require oral antibiotics, often require a prescription.
  • In very severe cases, they may need to be assessed for intravenous antibiotics or in-hospital care.


Childhood eczema can be distressing.  However, you can minimize the impact of eczema by avoiding the potential triggers, initiating the correct treatment early, and seeking medical attention when necessary. 


Dr. Jason Yu Zhou (M.B.B.S, FRACGP, Diploma of Childhood Health) has a keen interest in various skin conditions including skin cancers, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis.


More information

Patient – Atopic Eczema

Clinical Practice Guidelines – The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) – Australisian society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy

Eczema management – The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne


Medical disclaimer

This article is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.  Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional.