Children with eczema - information, skin care and handy hints

Children with eczema - information, skin care and handy hints

Printable one page handout - eczema information, eczema skin care and handy hints.

Thumbnail image of handout 'Children with eczema'Printable one page handout (PDF, 66KB) (see the image to the right). 

Eczema information 

  • eczema can affect any part of the body and can change a lot from day to day
  • the treatment your child needs for eczema will change from time to time
  • skin with dry, red, itchy, inflamed active eczema gets infected easily - infection is the most common cause of eczema becoming worse or flaring
  • avoid contact with cold sores - the cold sore virus can cause severe painful infection. See your doctor if you think eczema is infected with the cold sore virus
  • your surroundings may irritate or trigger eczema - these include soap, detergent, dust, pet fur, house dust mites and overheating
  • children with eczema can develop food allergies - removing foods does not usually improve eczema. See your doctor if you are still concerned about food allergy
  • a few children will still have bad eczema even with good skin care and need to see a specialist

Eczema skin care


  • bath every day in warm water for 10 minutes or less. Bath twice a day when eczema becomes worse or flares
  • wash the skin thoroughly from head to toe with a soap substitute.  This can be the same cream you use to moisturise the skin, or any non-soap product.  Apply directly to the skin with your hand, not flannels and cloths
  • after bathing pat skin dry, but do not rub. Do not share bath towels. Now apply creams
  • bath oil in the bath can help moisturise the skin
  • antiseptic baths twice a week can help prevent infection and improve eczema - see antiseptic or bleach bath instructions
  • you can use antiseptic bath oils but these are not funded on prescription - when using them, follow the instructions on the container
  • shampoo hair after bathing and rinse off over a basin
  • if you shower rather than bath, your health professional may recommend an antiseptic wash such as chlorhexidine or triclosan - follow directions for use and rinse well from your skin as these may irritate


  • apply lots of moisturiser to all the body after bathing and let it soak into the skin
  • moisturising often, every day, reduces topical steroid use - use a lot more moisturiser during flares

Topical steroids

  • apply topical steroids immediately after the bath, before or after moisturising
  • don't wait for eczema to get really bad before starting to use steroid creams - when the skin is no longer red and itchy, STOP topical steroids and keep moisturising

Handy hints

  • wash your hands before and after applying creams
  • let your child help to apply their own creams
  • choose products without fragrance and perfume
  • keep your child's fingernails and toenails clean, filed and short
  • don't dress your child too warmly and keep the bedroom cool
  • avoid putting scratchy fabrics next to your child's skin
  • damp dust and vacuum the house regularly
  • chlorinated swimming pools may worsen some children's eczema - apply moisturiser before swimming, shower after swimming, and apply moisturiser again. Some children prefer saltwater pools or the sea
  • the best sun protection is shade and clothing. Sun creams can be used on skin without active eczema. Choose a sun cream for sensitive skin with an SPF 30 or more

Produced by The Eczema Network of the Paediatric Society of New Zealand.

This page last reviewed 25 February 2016.
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