Eczema Facts

What?! Eczema and ADHD in children

Not sitting still in restaurant!

Is your child just irritable with his/her skin condition or has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)? Just came across two studies in 2003 and 2009 that suggest an association between eczema and ADHD in children. 5.2% of 1,436 children with eczema also have ADHD versus 3.4% of children without eczema. Also the younger the child has eczema, the increased likelihood of ADHD. When I read this, I’m thinking “Oh no! Watching TV is already linked to ADHD (and we do let Marcie watch TV to distract her from scratching while we do some housework/eat a quick meal) and now eczema also?!”

The good news is that the studies do not suggest a causal relationship, not definitive and it could also be that eczema children see a doctor more often, thus more chances of detecting ADHD. It could also be that eczema children who suffer from lack of sleep get restless or cranky, and not that they have ADHD. The even better news I read online is that eczema children are “very bright” as the skin and the brain develop at the same time, so “very reactive skin and very reactive mind” according to Sophie Worobec MD at University of Illinois.

In case you are wondering if your eczema child has ADHD, as we sometimes wonder, below are some symptoms of ADHD:

– Can’t focus on the task, easily distracted

– Unable to pay attention

– Fidget when sitting/ climbing all the time

– Talk excessively, can’t play quietly

– Impulsive

The ADHD behavior has to continue for 6 months. ADHD, like eczema, is also linked to genetics and immune system. Having a daily schedule, immediate reward system for good behavior, eating high protein food (like meat, beans, eggs) and complex carbohydrates have been reported to help with ADHD (but again nothing conclusive). So.. while I can’t survive without letting Marcie watch TV and can’t do any better than what I’m already doing for her eczema, I will read more books and build more blocks with her.. hopefully, it helps.

2014 update: Read also Dr Cheryl Lee, dermatologist, views on ADHD, eczema and environmental pollutants here.