Eczema In Babies and Children

September 14, 2023

Eczema In Children And Babies

Eczema is a common allergic condition that many young children and babies experience. Therefore, we have put together this comprehensive guide to help you better understand the condition. This guide will explore what eczema is, its causes, and treatment options. 

Little girl scratching forearm on color background. Allergy symptoms

What is eczema?

Eczema is a common skin condition that causes dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. Although the condition is common in younger children, cases are identified across all age ranges. It may surprise you that an estimated 20% of people will experience some form of eczema in their lives. 

Although there is no indisputable evidence that identifies why babies suffer from eczema, there is a strong link between eczema and genetics. Eczema can be difficult to live with as it damages the skin barrier function, also known as the “glue of your skin”. The loss of barrier function makes your skin more sensitive and more prone to infection and dryness. Luckily, there is a range of treatments available.

What does eczema look like in babies?

eczema in an older child

eczema in babies

Did you know that eczema does not look the same on every baby’s skin? There is a variance based on skin tone and the severity of the case. Lighter-skin babies usually have red patches of dry, itchy and rough skin. Darker-skinned children can display rashes that are purple, brown, or grey. This makes it harder to detect eczema in babies with darker skin. Eczema symptoms typically include:

  • Itchy, dry patches on the skin
  • Patches that range in size and spread all over the body

Most often, eczema will affect your child’s cheeks and the joints of their arms and legs. The itchy rash can lead to oozing and crusting scabs. Try not to worry if this happens as this is normal. However, if you are concerned, please contact your child’s GP or paediatrician.

What causes eczema?

Although there is not one root cause of eczema in young children, several potential causes are linked to the condition:

  • Those with a family history of allergic conditions such as asthma, eczema, food allergies and hayfever, also known as atopic conditions are more likely to develop the condition themselves
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Foods may also trigger eczema, such as cow’s milk protein in babies. However, it’s worth noting that not all babies with eczema have a food allergy


The environment a child lives in can also contribute. Areas with high pollution, such as cities and colder regions, can increase your child’s risk.

Is eczema contagious?

No, eczema is not contagious. This is because the rash is not caused by an infection or virus you can contract from someone else. Most children and babies will develop eczema primarily due to genetics. Although it is most common in young children, people can experience an initial case later in life. However, babies have more sensitive skin, which means additional factors can aggravate their eczema more frequently.

How is eczema diagnosed in babies?

The good news is an eczema diagnosis for your baby does not include any difficult tests. A doctor will examine your baby and rule out other conditions. The doctor will also ask some questions regarding your family history. This will help them understand if eczema runs in the family. If in doubt, your doctor may refer you to a specialist paediatric dermatologist or a paediatric allergist for further diagnosis or treatment. This is nothing to worry about. They can help identify triggers in your baby, manage the condition effectively and provide treatment if necessary.

Similar conditions to eczema

Self-diagnosis is not recommended for eczema, especially if you notice your child’s symptoms have persisted. However, similar medical conditions exist, which can be easily mistaken for eczema. Below – we will explore some of these similar conditions, discussing how they differ from one another. 

Scabies vs eczema

Both scabies and eczema cause itchy, red rashes that develop on the skin. However, the causes are different. Scabies develops due to an allergic reaction to mites living on your skin. Scabies is also highly contagious. In scabies, irritation becomes worse during the nights when the mites on your skin burrow. You can differentiate the two, as eczema rashes are dark in colour, whereas a scabies rash is pink. You will notice small blisters on your skin that are filled with liquid. 

Psoriasis vs eczema

Acute psoriasis on the elbows is an autoimmune incurable dermatological skin disease. Large red, inflamed, flaky rash on the knees. Joints affected by psoriatic arthritis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes red, scaly patches to develop on the skin. It is rare in infants – and more common in teens and adolescents. Psoriasis is the result of the overdevelopment of new skin cells. The main way to tell the difference between the two is down to their symptoms. Psoriasis tends to cause mild itching, while eczema is much more severe. Treatment is available, and cases usually clear up. Diagnosing psoriasis can be challenging, so getting a doctor’s opinion is vital as several other skin conditions share common similarities. 

Ringworm vs eczema

Ringworm on a child's skin. 

Ringworm on a child’s skin.

Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection of the skin with a ring like, pink/red appearance The rash can appear suddenly or take a few days to develop. You should always consult a doctor for a diagnosis. Luckily, treatment is simple and effective once you receive a ringworm diagnosis.

Eczema treatment

Eczema can be a long-term condition, however, it does often improve as a child gets older. There are multiple courses of treatment that can be undertaken in order to ease symptoms and improve irritation. It is important to discuss these courses of treatment with a doctor. Some of them may include:


  • Regular moisturising with an emollient. Contact your doctor to ask which one may be the best for your child’s skin.
  • Topical steroids, ointments, or other anti-inflammatory treatments may be prescribed to help improve inflammation.
  • Bath additives may also be available to help soothe the affected areas
  • It may also help to assess whether there are any triggering factors such as diet and attempting to remove them to help prevent other flare-ups.
  • It is also important to make sure that you regularly check your child’s skin – not only to monitor the condition of the skin but also to check for any skin infections that may occur – if you notice one, it is important to contact your doctor, as oral antibiotics may be required.


Avoid self-diagnosing your child, especially if their symptoms have persisted. Skin conditions are prevalent in babies, so don’t hesitate to acquire the help of a doctor to get the correct treatment.

When to contact a doctor

If your baby is experiencing any of the following, it is likely best to consult a doctor:

  • No signs of improvement after one week of over-the-counter medication. Prescription medications are often the next step after this.
  • Signs of light brown/yellow crust or pus-filled blisters. This could signify your child has a bacterial or viral infection which requires medical attention. 
  • Sudden fever.

Here at Childhealthy, we understand eczema can be uncomfortable for your baby. However, the good news is that most babies will outgrow the condition. Repeat rashes may be prevalent, so keep an eye on the symptoms even if your child is prone to chronic eczema. Always consult with a medical professional if you are concerned.  Get in touch today if you are concerned and would like an assesment.

Help and advice

If you would like to find out more, please don’t hesitate to book a consultation today. We aim to respond to your query as soon as possible.




Disclaimer: Information contained in this article is intended as general advice and does not replace a medical assessment. If you are concerned about your child please contact your doctor for advice.


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