Children's Health OurHealth

Coping with childhood eczema

Written by Tshilidzi Tuwani

Thabitha Rakoma spent months trying to cure the dry patches of skin on her baby boy’s face until her local clinic diagnosed the problem.

Causing dry and flaky skin, eczema is a common childhood illness but can happen at any age (File photo)

Causing dry and flaky skin, eczema is a common childhood illness but can happen at any age (File photo)

Thabitha’s son, Bokang, developed patches of dry skin on his cheeks at just two months old. Her mother’s advise to apply Vaseline to the child’s face yielded no results. Eventually, doctors at her local Maria Rantho Clinic in Soshanguve diagnosed her child with eczema.

Eczema is a skin condition that leads to patches of dry and itchy skin. The condition is common in children but can occur at any age and may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever, according to the US health non-profit the Mayo Clinic.

Eczema is a chronic condition marked by periodic reoccurrences. Maria Rantho Clinic staff have warned Thabitha that Bokang is likely to need follow up appointments and periodic applications of aqueous cream and antihistamines.

Thabitha added that she is relieved to finally know what the rash on her son’s face is but says she wishes she knew what caused the condition.

“I am very worried about this kind of disease because no one tells me the exact cause of it, but I believe it’s an inheritance from his father because he has it as well,” she told OurHealth

Genetics may be partly to blame for eczema however the condition’s cause remains unknown, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other posited causes include bacteria, environmental conditions and immune system problems.

According to Soshanguve physician Dr. Berea Matshivha, the condition can be aggravated by reactions to smoke, dust or diary products depending on the patient.

Thabitha says she keeps Bokang away from diary and has asked those who watch him to avoid letting the child eat sweets or play close to smoking adults.

About the author

Tshilidzi Tuwani

Tshilidzi Tuwani is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Gauteng's Tshwane Health District.