Atopic Eczema in Children

What is atopic eczema?

Atopic eczema is a chronic, itchy skin condition that is very common in children but may occur at any age.

It is also known as eczema and atopic dermatitis. It is the most common form of dermatitis. Atopic eczema usually occurs in people who have an ‘atopic tendency’.

This means they may develop any or all of three closely linked conditions; atopic eczema, asthma and hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Often these conditions run within families with a parent, child or sibling also affected.


What does atopic eczema look like?

There is quite a variation in the appearance of atopic eczema between individuals. From time to time, most people have acute flares with inflamed, red, sometimes blistered and weepy patches. In between flares, the skin may appear normal or suffer from chronic eczema with dry, thickened and itchy areas.


Infants less than one year old often have widely distributed eczema. The skin is often dry, scaly and red with small scratch marks made by sharp baby nails. The cheeks of infants are often the first place to be affected.


Toddlers and pre-schoolers

As children begin to move around, the eczema becomes more localised and thickened. Toddlers scratch vigorously and the eczema may look very raw and uncomfortable. Eczema in this age group often affects the outer aspects of joints, particularly the wrists, elbows, ankles and knees. It may also affect the genitals. As the child becomes older the pattern frequently changes to involve the creases of joints.

School-age children

Older children tend to have eczema affecting the elbow and knee creases. Other susceptible areas include the eyelids, earlobes, neck and scalp. They can develop recurrent acute itchy blisters on the palms, fingers and sometimes on the feet.

Many children develop a ‘nummular’ pattern of atopic eczema. This refers to small coin-like areas of eczema scattered over the body. These round patches of eczema are dry, red and itchy and may be mistaken for ringworm (a fungal infection).


Does atopic eczema persist forever?

Atopic eczema affects 15-20% of children but only 1-2% of adults. It is impossible to predict whether eczema will improve by itself or not in an individual. It is unusual for an infant to be affected with atopic eczema before the age of four months.

Atopic eczema is often worst between the ages of two and four but it generally improves after this and may clear altogether by the teens.


Treatment of atopic eczema may be required for many months and possibly years.
It nearly always requires:
  • Reduction of exposure to trigger factors (where possible)
  • Regular emollients (moisturisers)
  • Intermittent topical steroids
In some cases, management may also include one of more of the following:
  • Topical calcineurin inhibitors such as pimecrolimus cream or tacrolimus ointment
  • Antibiotics
  • Antihistamines
  • Phototherapy
  • Oral corticosteroids

Longstanding and severe eczema may be treated with an immunosupressive agent.

  • Methotrexate
  • Ciclosporin
  • Azathioprine

Skin allergy tests we offer:

1. Skin prick test
2. Patch tests
3. Blood Allergy tests

For more information, contact us for appointment.


Dr Lynn Chiam…

Dr Lynn Chiam graduated from the National University of Singapore and subsequently received her Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (Internal Medicine) United Kingdom. She completed her specialist training in dermatology...

More about Dr. Lynn...

Why choose Children & Adult Skin Clinic?

No two individuals are the same. Our treatments are customized to each individual’s unique skin type & needs.

Through consultation with our doctor, a thorough analysis will be undertaken to determine the ideal treatment methods for the best possible results.

Contact Us

Children & Adult Skin

Mt Elizabeth Novena Specialist Medical Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road #07-22
Singapore 329563

+65 6570 2303

Fax: (65) 6570 2302

Clinic Opening Hours

Monday to Friday:
9.00am – 12.30pm
2.00pm – 5.00pm

Saturday :
9.00am – 12.30pm

Sunday & Public Holidays : CLOSED


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