Seeing your child suffer from pediatric eczema can be difficult for all parents. Pediatric eczema is a term used to refer to atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic and inflammatory skin condition that causes dry and scaly patches of skin. The skin becomes red, inflamed and the condition causes severe itchiness. The lesions of pediatric eczema typically appear before the infant turns six months old, though it can happen any time before a child reaches five years of age.
Latest research has now shown that a simple tape test can help predict if your newborn baby is prone to develop pediatric eczema. Here’s everything you need to know about this simple tape test that can predict pediatric eczema.
What is Pediatric Eczema?
Pediatric eczema is another name used to refer to atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic and inflammatory skin condition that causes dry and scaly patches of skin that are red, inflamed, and are very itchy. The first lesions of eczema in children typically start to appear before the age of five. However, it is possible for eczema to affect anyone at any age, and the condition can continue to come and go throughout a person’s life.(1, 2, 3, 4)
Pediatric eczema usually flares up or worsens after being exposed to certain triggers that cause irritation to the skin. Some of the common triggers for atopic dermatitis in children include:
- Dry, cold weather
- Outdoor allergens like pollen, grass, and mold
- Air pollution(5)
- Fragrances including scented soaps and lotions, air fresheners, and perfumes
- Pets, including cats and dogs
- Chemicals from smoking or secondhand smoke
When it comes to children, even organic or all-natural products can cause irritation to the skin as they contain botanical ingredients which can be allergic to children. Unlike what most people believe, foods are usually not the common triggers for eczema.(6)
What Symptoms Should A Parent Watch Out For In Pediatric Eczema?
The most common symptoms of pediatric eczema are of course red, dry, and scaly patches of skin that are usually very itchy. The other symptoms of pediatric eczema usually vary by age. Here are some of the symptoms of the condition at different ages:(7, 8)
- Babies Under Six Months: Red and dry patches of skin begin to appear, most commonly on the face, but it may affect the entire body or other parts of the body as well.
- Babies Between 6 to 12 Months: Patches of eczema may develop on the knees and elbows.
- Children Between Two To Five Years: Patches of affected skin can develop on the folds of the knees and elbows, around the eyes and mouth, and on the arms and hands. During this age, the patches may start becoming scaly, more dry, or even flaky.
- Children Over Five Years: In children over the age of five, eczema is usually observed in the folds of the knees and elbows, on the neck, eyelids, and in many children, it may appear on the hands as well.
Tape Test to Predict Pediatric Eczema
In September 2022, researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark announced that they have successfully used a simple tape test to predict how likely a newborn child is to develop severe eczema. Scientists used a simple tape to painlessly test the skin of nearly 450 babies and found changes in immune biomarkers in the cells that were associated with the risk of developing pediatric eczema.(9)
The study found that babies who had high levels of Thymus and Activation-Regulated Chemokine (TARC) when they were two months old were almost twice as likely to develop eczema by the time they reach two years. This means that newborn babies who are at higher risk could be administered skin cream early on itself to prevent a full onset of painful eczema flare-up at a later stage. The findings of the researchers were presented at the 31st European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Congress.(10)
The study is a major step forward in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric eczema because it will help doctors investigate and create future preventative strategies for children who are found to have high levels of TARC at two months of age to help prevent the development of this disease.
Eczema affects nearly 20 percent of children. It makes the skin itchy, sore, and dry. While treatment can help alleviate the symptoms of pediatric eczema, but there is no cure for the disease.
With the potential of a simple tape test to determine the likelihood of a child developing pediatric eczema making it easier for doctors to make efforts to treat the condition beforehand itself, the future seems promising. While more research is needed, the study carried out by University of Copenhagen provides the first step in finding new and more effective treatments for pediatric eczema.
- Grillo, M., Gassner, L., Marshman, G., Dunn, S. and Hudson, P., 2006. Pediatric atopic eczema: the impact of an educational intervention. Pediatric dermatology, 23(5), pp.428-436.
- Rea, C.J., Tran, K.D., Jorina, M., Wenren, L.M., Hawryluk, E.B. and Toomey, S.L., 2018. Associations of eczema severity and parent knowledge with child quality of life in a pediatric primary care population. Clinical Pediatrics, 57(13), pp.1506-1514.
- Frank Samarin, M.D., Babcock, M.J. and Rippke, F., 2015. Steroid-free over-the-counter eczema skin care formulations reduce risk of flare, prolong time to flare, and reduce eczema symptoms in pediatric subjects with atopic dermatitis. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 14(5), pp.478-485.
- Ntuen, E., Taylor, S.L., Kinney, M., O’Neill, J.L., Krowchuk, D.P. and Feldman, S.R., 2010. Physicians’ perceptions of an eczema action plan for atopic dermatitis. Journal of dermatological treatment, 21(1), pp.28-33.
- Fuertes, E., Sunyer, J., Gehring, U., Porta, D., Forastiere, F., Cesaroni, G., Vrijheid, M., Guxens, M., Annesi-Maesano, I., Slama, R. and Maier, D., 2020. Associations between air pollution and pediatric eczema, rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma: a meta-analysis of European birth cohorts. Environment international, 136, p.105474.
- Galli, E., Ciucci, A., Cersosimo, S., Pagnini, C., Avitabile, S., Mancino, G., Delle Fave, G. and Corleto, V.D., 2010. Eczema and food allergy in an Italian pediatric cohort: no association with TLR-2 and TLR-4 polymorphisms. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, 23(2), pp.671-675.
- Silverberg, N.B. and Durán-McKinster, C., 2017. Special considerations for therapy of pediatric atopic dermatitis. Dermatologic Clinics, 35(3), pp.351-363.
- Silverberg, N.B., 2016. A practical overview of pediatric atopic dermatitis, part 1: epidemiology and pathogenesis. Cutis, 97(4), pp.267-271.
- Andersson, A.M., Sølberg, J., Koch, A., Skov, L., Jakasa, I., Kezic, S. and Thyssen, J.P., 2022. Assessment of biomarkers in pediatric atopic dermatitis by tape strips and skin biopsies. Allergy, 77(5), pp.1499-1509.
- European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (no date) EADV. Available at: https://eadv.org/ (Accessed: January 11, 2023).