What is eczema?

Eczema is a dry, itchy skin condition that's commonly found behind the knees and on the arms, hands, neck and face. It will often improve over time (or even disappear) as your child grows, but some adults have eczema too. 

Eczema is not contagious – your child can’give eczema to someone else and can’t catch it from another person. 

What causes eczema? 

Several factors can contribute to eczema including:

  • skin sensitivities
  • family history of eczema
  • asthma or hay fever

Kids with food allergies are more likely to have eczema.

Managing eczema

How to care for eczema in three easy steps (KidsHealth)

You may need to work with your doctor or nurse to create a skin care plan to help your child's eczema heal.

Some doctor's offices or hospitals have special eczema nurses and they can be really helpful, and even visit you at home. Check with your Plunket nurse, or Well Child or Tamariki Ora health provider to see if there's one in your area. PlunketLine can also provide advice and support. 

You can help your child manage their eczema by: 

  • using lots of moisturiser 
  • avoiding things which irritate your child's skin, especially soap 
  • using steroids when your child's skin has active eczema (your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone)
  • giving your child a bleach bath
  • dressing your child in cotton instead of wool or synthetics 
  • reduce sleep disturbance for your child by using bandages or cotton mittens to stop scratching at night 
  • avoiding them getting too hot or too cold.

Taking care of you

It can be stressful when your little one has eczema, and hard to see them uncomfortable and itchy. It can be helpful to reach out to whānau or friends if you're feeling overwhelmed or need support. 

You can try:

  • talking to whānau, friends or someone who may have a similar experience with their own child
  • calling PlunketLine

When to visit a doctor

Visit your family doctor as soon as possible if your child's eczema doesn't improve after treatment or becomes infected. If you’re not sure what to do, or your worried about your child’s eczema, call PlunketLine. 

Eczema tips from Allergy New Zealand

Allergy New Zealand

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Information, education, and support for New Zealanders living with allergies.

Need free support or advice?

Call PlunketLine 24/7 on 0800 933 922