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.

Eczema Facts

How do you know if your baby has eczema

Rashes on 2 month old baby’s face

Determining  if your baby has eczema may not be so straight forward. Being a first time mom, I remembered reading a checklist from the paediatrician on what is normal and not normal in a newborn. Rashes is one of the items listed as normal, no need to see a paediatrician.

My baby Marcie has eczema from 2 weeks old and I only realised that her rashes were not ‘normal’ on her 1st month checkup. The paediatrician diagnosed Marcie with eczema after looking at her rashes and linked it as an allergy to milk (which turned out to be not the cause).

If you are wondering if your baby has eczema, the signs and symptoms listed below can serve as a guideline:

1. Itch – Itch causes scratching (and keeping my baby from scratching really stresses me out!)

2. Inflammation – Damage to skin cells caused by scratching. The redness in skin is caused by increased blood flow and the skin feels warm to touch and swollen.

3. Scaly Skin – More than usual dead cells on skin; can come in various forms, including white/powdery, cracked, thin/transparent sheets that peel off or thick/yellow flakes/chips

4. Lichenification – Thicker, darker and rougher skin from scratching/rubbing

5. Brown skin color – Brown spot where eczema used to be, caused by cells in skin (‘melanocytes’) releasing extra pigments from scratching

6. Scratch marks

7. Crusts – Caused by leaking serum, the liquid part of blood that heals inflammation

8. Cracking

9. Small blisters

10. Nails – Thick & rough nails, pitted/ ridged

11. Dry skin

There are more signs and symptoms listed in the book “Eczema Free for Life” by Adnan Nasir, but listing all that here will be information overkill.