Eczema in children

Also known as atopic dermatitis

Key points to remember about eczema in children

  • Eczema is a dry, itchy skin condition.
  • You can usually control your child's eczema by using lots of moisturiser, a bath once a day and using steroids when your child's skin has active eczema.
  • Avoid things which irritate your child's skin, especially soap.
  • Go to your family doctor as soon as possible if your child's eczema doesn't improve after treatment or becomes infected.
Small boy outdoors with itchy arm
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  • Eczema is a dry skin condition that causes the skin to become red (inflamed) and itchy.
  • It usually begins early in childhood.

The skin of people with eczema has cracks in the barrier so is more sensitive to irritants (such as soap) and more at risk of infection.

A child is more likely to develop eczema if there is a family history of eczema, asthma or hayfever.

Food allergies do not cause eczema although children with eczema have a higher risk of developing food allergy.

Please contact your GP or nurse if:

  • your child's eczema is not showing signs of improvement after 5 days, or
  • if your child has signs of a skin infection

Signs of a skin infection include:

  • crusting
  • weeping
  • pustules (yellow or white pimples)
  • blisters
  • fever
  • pain

Video: How to care for eczema in 3 easy steps

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Can't see this video on YouTube? Try viewing it on Vimeo(external link)

Video transcript(external link)

Atopic dermatitis (eczema)(external link)(external link) DermNet NZ 
Eczema(external link) Allergy NZ


Eczema action plan(external link)(external link) New Zealand Child & Youth Clinical Network, 2020
Caring for your child's eczema(external link)(external link) New Zealand Child and Youth Clinical Network, 2023
Bleach bath instructions(external link) Starship, NZ, 2023


eczema action plan

Eczema action plan(external link)

New Zealand Child & Youth Clinical Network, 2020

Caring for your child's eczema

New Zealand Child and Youth Clinical Network, 2023

bleach bath for eczema starship

Bleach bath instructions

Starship, NZ, 2021

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Credits: Content shared between HealthInfo Canterbury, KidsHealth and Health Navigator NZ as part of a National Health Content Hub Collaborative.

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