Teen Eczema Q&A with Dr Lynn Chiam – Puberty

Dr Lynn Chiam, a consultant dermatologist who subspecializes in paediatric skin conditions

This blog has covered lots on children with eczema, but as they grow older, eczema may present a different set of challenges and in a different form (for instance, due to puberty). MarcieMom is privileged to have Dr Lynn Chiam of Children & Adult Skin Hair Laser Clinic, a consultant dermatologist who subspecializes in paediatric skin conditions at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Medical Centre, Singapore. Dr Chiam is a mum to three young children and is expecting her 4th child at the end of the year.

More on Dr Lynn Chiam – Dr Lynn was formerly the head of paediatric dermatology at National Skin Centre, Singapore before leaving for private practice. She has vast experience in childhood atopic dermatitis and childhood birthmarks. Apart from paediatric dermatology, her other subspecialty interests include adult pigmentary conditions and laser dermatology. She has published numerous articles and has contributed articles to various magazines and newspapers. She helped set up the Eczema Support Group for both children and adults and is currently the Medical Advisor to the group.

Marcie Mom: As children move into pre-teen years and into puberty, what are some of the body changes that may trigger eczema? Are there certain parts of the body that are more prone to eczema at the onset of puberty? And is there any difference noted between eczema in a teenage boy versus a teenage girl?

Dr Lynn Chiam: As young children move into pre-teen and pubertal years, there are changes in the body’s hormonal profile and maturing of the sexual characteristics of the body. Sex steroids modulate skin thickness as well as immune function. It had been noted that under the age of 10, eczema occurs equally among boys and girls. However, from 10-18 years, eczema becomes more prevalent among girls. During adolescence, more girls develop eczema and more boys outgrow it. This suggests a role for gender-specific pubertal factors.

As they mature, it has been noted that females with eczema had more problems with issues of clothes and shoes than boys. Significant itch and sleep disturbance affected both genders. The areas of the body affected by eczema remain similar between the two genders during puberty. More studies are needed evaluate the effects of hormonal changes on eczema.

In infants and toddlers (0-2 years), eczema tend to affect the face and scalp while in childhood (2-12 years), it affects the flexures (inner aspect of elbows, neck, back of knees), wrist and ankles. In adolescents, eczema tend to affect the eyelids, neck and flexures (inner aspect of elbows, back of knees).

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