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What kids should know about treating eczema

A skin doctor can help

If your eczema is so itchy that it's keeping you up at night or painful, your parents might take you to see a skin doctor called a dermatologist.

illustration of two dermatologists

Sometimes, even if you're really good about putting on your thick cream or ointment, you still get itchy. Don't worry, it happens.  The good thing is there's other stuff you can do to try to stop the itching. 

  • Put a soft, cool, wet cloth on the itchy skin. It can cool the burning and itchiness.

  • Use medicine. Your parents can take you to the store to buy medicine you take by mouth or cream you can put on your skin. The one you take by mouth (called an antihistamine) makes your immune system chill out and stops the itch. The other kind (called a corticosteroid) comes in a cream that you put on the skin to stop the annoying itch. You shouldn't use it for a long time, though, because it can make your skin thinner and less able to protect you. A doctor can tell you how to use it.

If these things don't help enough, ask your parents to take you to a skin doctor (dermatologist). The skin doctor can give you a stronger version of medicine or use another treatment. Some of the treatments are:

  • Creams: These work to stop the itch by moisturizing your skin and help your immune system not overreact.

  • Pills: There are several kinds of these, too. Some cure infections kids get from scratching too much. Others keep your immune system calm.

  • Light therapy: A special type of light can make the itchiness go away.

  • Tar: It sounds weird, but in the old days they put thick, gooey tar on the eczema. Tar is still used today and you know what? It stops the itch! Sometimes it's messy and smelly. Just like any treatment, don't use this without talking to your doctor first.

Sometimes doctors do tests to see if certain things are triggering your eczema. But the tests can't always figure out the problem.  And even if you can figure out a few things that trigger eczema, your itchy skin won't completely go away. The best thing to do is to take really good care of your skin, use lots of cream or ointment, and use medicine when it gets itchy. And remember, you're not alone!

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