Eczema is a common condition that can affect anyone of any age, but is especially common among infants and toddlers. Eczema, also commonly referred to as atopic dermatitis, can cause your toddler's scalp to be coated with an uncomfortably itchy and inflamed rash. Once you identify the rash, you can take steps to treat your toddler and prevent future breakouts of eczema.
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Recognizing Scalp Eczema
You can identify scalp eczema and single it out from other scalp infections by its unique look and texture on your toddler's scalp. Eczema typically consists of dry and raised areas of skin, which develop in patches or bumps that are often itchy and irritated. The areas of affected skin turn a red to brownish or gray color, and turn a deeper red when irritated by scratching -- which is common with toddlers who don't understand why they shouldn't scratch the affected areas. The area may crust over once scratched.
Cause of Eczema
Eczema on the scalp and other areas of the body can be caused by a genetic makeup that makes your toddler more prone to dry skin. Eczema can also be related to allergies in toddlers, and toddlers who deal with eczema often develop asthma or hay fever as they grow older. Eczema can flare up due to exposure to allergens or irritants, and may react to changes in temperature or humidity that dry out the skin.
While over-the-counter medications can treat eczema in older children and adults, you should not use any medications on your toddler unless directed by your doctor. Instead, focus on preventive measures as well as keeping the scalp hydrated through the application of moisturizing ointments, lotions or creams to the affected areas. When possible, avoid hot and dry locations that can dry out the skin, or use a humidifier in your home to keep the air moist during dry seasons.
For severe eczema, your doctor may prescribe medicine to treat the scalp. This can range from corticosteroid creams, to relieve itching during the day, to oral antihistamines to reduce itching and help your toddler sleep through the night.