In this illuminating Q&A session, we candidly talk with Dr. Scott, a distinguished dermatologist and devoted mother. Dr. Scott delves into the vital topic of childhood eczema, especially among children with Black skin, shedding light on parents’ challenges in identifying and treating this condition. As October marks National Eczema Awareness Month, Dr. Scott emphasizes raising awareness about eczema, particularly among African-American parents. Furthermore, she discusses the Aveeno Baby Eczema Equality Initiative, which aims to bridge the resource gap for parents of color dealing with eczema. Dr. Scott also provides valuable insights into what eczema is, its signs in children with darker skin tones, common misconceptions, and practical tips for care and treatment.
Additionally, she addresses African-American parents’ unique challenges and offers advice on balancing professional lives while caring for children with eczema. Dr. Scott’s heartfelt message to African-American parents underscores the importance of advocacy and the availability of valuable resources to ensure their children receive the care they deserve. Join us as we explore the world of eczema, dispel myths, and empower parents with knowledge and support.
Dr. Scott, please explain why children with Black and brown skin are more likely to develop severe eczema and what challenges parents face regarding identifying and treating the condition.
Dr. Scott’s Response: While eczema is multifactorial (with genetics and the environment playing a role in development), we don’t know exactly why children with Black and brown skin are more likely to develop eczema in general at higher rates than white children, however, severe eczema may be due to difficulties in recognizing and getting a timely diagnosis, that lead to delays in care.
October is National Eczema Awareness Month. Can you tell us the importance of raising awareness about eczema, especially among African-American parents?
Dr. Scott’s Response: Eczema is the most common childhood skin condition, and even more common in African-Americans, and it’s a condition that we can treat and manage in a way that changes lives – but without the awareness of it, many children may never get the care we have available. Raising awareness is so important to reach those who may not know about it otherwise.
Aveeno Baby is working to address the resource gap for parents of color dealing with eczema in their children. What inspired this initiative, and how is Aveeno Baby planning to make a difference?
Dr. Scott’s Response: I think they were smart to listen to their consumers and the community and see this unmet need in having a resource like this. Their site has photos to help identify eczema in darker skin tones, quizzes, information, additional resources to help find a dermatologist (especially a skin-of-color dermatologist, like the SOCS website).
For parents unfamiliar with eczema, could you briefly describe what it is and what signs they should look for in their children, particularly those with darker skin tones?
Dr. Scott’s Response: Eczema is a chronic skin condition characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. We oftentimes call it “the itch that rashes” because it starts with itching due to an impaired skin barrier, and the rash follows after scratching. The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it’s it’s a combination of genetic factors that cause immune dysregulation and skin barrier impairment and environmental triggers that can trigger. In babies and children affected, you’ll often see them trying to scratch their skin and develop rashes – in darker skin, these rashes can be purplish instead of red and can leave darker areas of skin (and even lighter spots as well, depending on how your babies skin reacts). There can also be rougher, bumpier areas of skin and overall very dry skin.
What are some common misconceptions about eczema in children of color, and how can we dispel them?
Dr. Scott’s Response: One of the biggest misconceptions I see, especially when eczema causes hyperpigmentation or dark patches on the body, is that it’s a cleanliness/hygiene issue and parents scrub more or use more soap, etc. We actually counsel parents to avoid scrubbing as this can worsen eczema, and they should use gentle cleansers, not over stripping ones, and always moisturize after with a thick cream.
What are some specific challenges African-American parents may face when managing eczema in their children, and how can they overcome these challenges?
Dr. Scott’s Response: I think the challenges can be twofold – one is in our current medical system, if your insurance plan requires a referral to see a dermatologist, this can delay care, especially if your primary doctor may not recognize the signs of eczema in darker skin – this is where more photos and resources can empower parents plus patients to get better care. The other difficulty I see often in the clinic and with my own children is that eczema is chronic, and flare-ups can still happen even with our best care, and the light spots that are left behind can really be disheartening. I always remind parents they’re doing their best and a flare-up doesn’t mean a failure on their part.
Can you share some actionable tips for parents on caring for and treating eczema in children of color using Aveeno Baby products or otherwise?
Dr. Scott’s Response: Absolutely. The first tip is just because it says for babies doesn’t mean older kids can’t use it. Also, keep nails trimmed!
Are there any special considerations or product recommendations for parents dealing with eczema in infants or young children?
Dr. Scott’s Response: Children should get a bath or shower in lukewarm water daily or every other day, and always limit the products (i.e., skip the bubble bath or fragranced soaps) – use something like the Aveeno Baby Cleansing Therapy Moisturizing Wash. After bathing, gently pat the skin with a towel (no scrubbing), and immediately apply a thick cream like the Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm to damp skin. Even on days you don’t bathe, still apply a layer of balm. It helps to remember that babies and kids with eczema have a deficient skin barrier, so we’re sort of replacing it by using a thick cream like this.
As a dermatologist and mother, Dr. Scott, what advice do you have for parents trying to balance their professional lives with caring for a child with eczema?
Dr. Scott’s Response: Whew, it can feel like a whole job on its own. I get it! I think one of the biggest things I try to do with my parents of babies/kids with eczema is set up routines that are realistic and are meant to help prevent flare-ups. Following a simple routine like above can go a long way in preventing many flare-ups. But I also recognize it’s not always so simple, and at the end of the day, I always remind parents a flare-up isn’t a failure on your part. One of the lights at the end of the tunnel is reminding parents that the majority of kids with eczema do grow out of it.
Finally, what message would you like to send to African-American parents struggling to find the right resources and support for their children’s eczema?
Dr. Scott’s Response: I’m grateful that they now have a resource like the Aveeno Baby Eczema Equality Initiative. I would say don’t be afraid to advocate for your child and the care they deserve, come equipped with photos of their flare-ups, photos from online (like this resource), and get that referral to a dermatologist. And if they aren’t a great match, don’t give up; there are great ones out there!
Dr. Laura Scott is a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in adult and pediatric dermatology, with a very special interest in taking care of babies, kids, and moms. She served as the Associate Director of the Skin of Color Division at the University of Miami. She now treats medical dermatologic and cosmetic skin concerns at Scott & Co. Skin in San Diego. She has served as an expert dermatologist consultant for national and international brands and featured as an expert dermatologist in print magazines and digital media. She graduated from Harvard Medical School, where she not only discovered her passion for dermatology but also became a mom! When she’s not caring for patients or consulting, she’s soaking up time with her husband and four daughters.