Eczema is believed to result from a hyperactive response of our immune system to an irritant.
Causes of eczema
- It often occurs together with allergies.
- Eczema often presents as a minor condition but for some it can seriously impact on their quality of life.
- Discomfort from itching and subsequent loss of sleep can impact greatly on day to day living.
- A significant number of children continue to suffer with eczema into adolescence and adult life, therefore it is important that it is managed well at school.
Symptoms of eczema
- Severe itching.
- Cracked and inflamed skin sometimes resulting in infections.
- Disturbed sleep and concentration due to severe itching.
- Food allergens e.g. egg, inadvertently taken, may provoke acute ezcema.
Treatments for eczema
- The key treatments are topical hydration of the skin using emollients (medical moisturisers) and the avoidance of allergens that may trigger eczema.
- Regular use of emollients to keep the skin hydrated is very important.
- Rapid treatment of infection should the skin become infected.
- To reduce itching, it’s important that skin is kept moisturised using emollients. Access to a clean and private space to apply emollients, such as the school medical room, is important.
- Hot weather conditions can cause eczema to flare up, sitting away from radiators and in well ventilated spaces can help.
- Manmade fibres such as polyester can cause irritation, natural materials such as cotton are much better. Be open to discussing school uniform modifications with parents/carers in cases of severe eczema.
Support for learning
- Severe itching may result in sufferers being unable to sleep at night, this may result in poor levels of concentration and distractibility. Check in with students and ask them what will help.
- Severe eczema can result in hospital admission for intravenous antibiotics. Keep in touch with the student via email and contact the hospital school or teaching service as soon as possible to liaise regarding school work.
Teasing and bullying
- Severe eczema can affect a student's appearance. They may have red and scaly skin; their skin may flake and scab. Be vigilant for teasing remarks.
- Monitor for changes in a student's behaviour, they may become withdrawn or isolated, not wish to change for PE or participate in activities that draws attention to themselves.
- If changes are noted sensitively check in with them.