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Eczema cases rising among US children

Staff writer ▼ | November 26, 2014
A growing number of children are being diagnosed with the allergic skin condition eczema but it can usually be eased with topical treatments, according to a new report.
Eczema children
Kids   A chronic condition
Eczema is a chronic condition that usually starts in childhood, and causes patches of skin to become dry, inflamed and often intensely itchy. And, studies have shown, eczema seems to be on the rise.

Based on a household survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of eczema among kids younger than 18 rose between 2000 and 2010: from around 9 percent to 17 percent among black children; from 5 percent to 10 percent among Hispanic kids; and from around 8 percent to almost 13 percent among white children.

"We don't know for certain why that is," said Dr. Anna Bruckner, one of the authors of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) report.

Greater awareness of eczema and higher rates of diagnosis are likely part of it, according to Bruckner, who directs pediatric dermatology at Children's Hospital Colorado. "But the incidence of the [eczema] is probably increasing, too," she said.

The AAP detailed the best ways to manage atopic dermatitis, more commonly known as eczema, in a report released online Nov. 24 in the journal Pediatrics.

The treatments described in the AAP report are not new, Bruckner said. But since so many kids have eczema nd there are so few pediatric dermatologists all pediatricians need to be up to speed on the skin condition, according to Bruckner.

For most children with eczema, topical treatments and careful skin care are enough to control the condition, according to Bruckner. Topical steroids are the mainstay for treating inflammation. Low-potency products, like hydrocortisone, usually work well—but parents often hesitate to use them, Bruckner noted.