'Why does it itch so much?’ 8 questions parents have about eczema, answered by a dermatologist.

QV Dermcare
Thanks to our brand partner, QV Dermcare

With one in five Australians affected by eczema, the chances are if you don’t have eczema yourself, someone close to you does. 

From the discomfort and physical toll of eczema, the mental load of managing symptoms, to the financial strain of finding the right advice and treatment: it can all feel overwhelming to know where to begin. 

The use of clinically tested products, like QV Dermcare, is one of the simplest and most accessible steps eczema sufferers can take. Their therapeutic range includes a cleanser and moisturiser, intended for mild to moderate eczema to help improve skin hydration and reduces moisture loss.

A consumer survey found 85 per cent of eczema users experienced fewer flares, irritation and itch, while 92 per cent of mild-to-moderate eczema users experienced relief of itch and dryness after using the range.

For parents, managing their family’s eczema symptoms can be an even greater stress, but dermatologist Dr Liz Dawes-Higgs wants those parents to know they aren’t alone. Mamamia asked parents for their eczema questions, and we took them straight to Dr Liz to unpack.

Let’s start with the basics. What actually is eczema?

"Eczema is a very common skin condition, and it occurs in children and adults. It has a very distinctive rash and is associated with a really intense itch. That's what defines eczema, the itch with a rash, and the rash is different depending on the age of the person."

Why does it itch so much?

"Eczema sets up something we call the ‘itch-scratch cycle'. There’s so much inflammation that occurs with eczema and it releases lots of chemicals into the skin, stimulating the ends of nerve fibres. It sets off something like a pain sensation and an itch, which sends these messages back to the brain that say, ‘hey, this is itchy.’ So you scratch it. Then you set up that cycle, where the more you scratch, the more itchy it gets. That’s because the scratching is inflaming the skin, you're breaking that skin barrier down, making it more itchy. It’s really hard to break that cycle."


How do we know if our child has eczema? What are the obvious symptoms?

"Generally, there's often a family history. If a parent has dermatitis, they can pick up very quickly if their child has it, but it can be very difficult for a parent to know if their child has eczema. Sometimes they don't necessarily have those tell-tale signs or the parent hasn't ever had any experience with dermatitis. 

"One of the real tell-tale signs is if their child is really itchy, but little babies can't scratch themselves. You might find that they're rubbing at themselves, particularly around their cheeks or their face, or when they're starting to crawl, they might rub on the carpet. Then there’s the distinctive, red rash. If they’re not able to sleep because they’re rubbing or itching, they’ve got sensitive skin and tend to react more than the other kids around them, they're some of the common signs that your child may have eczema."

It's always important to seek the guidance of a qualified health professional to get a diagnosis.


Where on the body does eczema commonly appear? Is it different for kids versus adults?

"Babies tend to have dermatitis on their cheek or their scalp may feel scaly and rough from being so dry. Then, as they start to crawl, that rash can appear on their knees or their palms. As they start to walk, the rash can appear in more classic areas of eczema we see in adults, in the elbows and behind the knees, anywhere in the folds basically. Some adults can have rashes around the eyelids, and face as well as on their hands."

Does eczema ever go away? How long do these rashes typically last?

"It can go away as the child gets older, but around 25 per cent of kids go into adulthood with dermatitis. Some kids can ‘grow out of it’ as they get older, but eczema does persist through adulthood for many others."


What really causes eczema?

"It’s a work in progress as to what causes it, we know that the environment plays a big role. There are lots of environmental triggers for eczema like sand, abrasives, chlorine and extremes of weather temperatures and conditions, like heat, cold, and wind. 

"More recently, we’ve learnt about a gene defect in the skin barrier function that’s involved as well. Our skin is meant to protect us from the environment, it's meant to keep moisture in. But this defect lets that moisture out, which leads to environmental irritants, allergens, bacteria and viruses to all come in to the skin."

How can you actually manage eczema?

"A healthcare professional might not be able to cure it, but you certainly can control it. The first thing is getting a correct diagnosis. Treatment can involve an array of topical moisturisers, treatment creams and anti-inflammatory ointments. Avoiding well-known triggers is another important way to treat eczema, too. 

"It's great to keep a trigger diary so that you have a better understanding of what your child or family member's triggers are. Is it extremes of cold or heat? Is it harsh cleansers? Is it putting that wool jumper on? Getting to know those signs of when a flare-up could be about to start will help. When picking products, avoid fragrances. When it comes to clothes and pyjamas, cotton fabrics are the best choice. Avoid nylon, synthetics and wool." 

What’s your best tip for parents of children with eczema? 

"It's very hard having a child (or any family member for that matter) with eczema; it involves a lot of work, it involves a lot of management and specialist visits, but enlisting the help of a dermatologist early on to get a good program in place can really set the stage for managing eczema. Parents, be kind to yourself! There can be lots of costs and time involved, having to take time off work – it’s important to look after your family, but look after yourself, too."


Shop the QV Dermcare range online or your local pharmacy.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use.

This information is for general purposes only and does not take the place of professional or medical advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional. Eczema requires a diagnosis by a medical practitioner.

QV Dermcare Eczema Daily has been clinically tested on people 18 years and above.

1. Kantar TNS. Online mini-poll on eczema. 2019. Australia (n=306). Sponsored by Ego Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd. Result based on response to question ‘Does anyone in your household suffer from eczema?’
2. Spada F et al. Dermatol Ther 2021;34(4):e14970. (n=100) Study sponsored by Ego Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd. QV Dermcare Eczema Daily has been clinically tested on people 18 years and above.
3. Consumer satisfaction survey on people with mild or moderate eczema. n=48. Participants confirmed condition status through a declaration. Survey conducted by Beauty Heaven on behalf of Ego Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd. 2021.

Feature Image: Mamamia/Instagram/

QV Dermcare
QV Dermcare Eczema Daily is clinically designed and tested for mild to moderate eczema skin with a researched-blend of ingredients including glyercin, ceramides, lactic acid, niacinamide and more. Dermatologically tested, QV Dermcare Eczema Daily repairs the skin barrier, helping improve skin hydration and reducing associated itch and dryness. The range can be used daily, all year round, helping you feel in control. For more information, search QV Dermcare online today or ask your health professional for more information.